While there is no doubt that Europe has a thriving biotech scene, it can really help a European company to succeed if it has a US presence. No one knows this better than Patricia Zilliox, CEO of French biotech company Eyevensys, who has lived and worked in the US for many years.
Zilliox is French, but has lived in Texas for a long time. After a PhD in Strasbourg, she moved to the US to work at the ophthalmology pharma company Alcon, where she stayed until the company merged with Novartis in 2011.
“Alcon is a big pharma company, but it was organized basically like a biotech,” she said. “It was very horizontal management; we were in charge of our project from A to Z. One of the reasons I left when Novartis took over was because it became a very vertical management… I was losing that big-picture approach.”
Due to the requirements of a contract clause, Zilliox could not move straight to another pharma or biotech company. She spent the next five years working as Chief Drug Development Officer at the non-profit Foundation Fighting Blindness Clinical Research Institute in Columbia, Maryland.
While at the foundation, Zilliox used her expertise to help companies in the ophthalmology area to develop new treatments and get seed funding.