There are not many people who can say they led one of Europe’s largest biotechs and launched the first approved gene therapy in Europe. Joern Aldag, now CEO at Austrian biotech Hookipa Pharma, has done both.
Aldag got into biotech because he wanted to use his entrepreneurial skills to advance medicine. After 9 years of experience as CEO of Evotec, he put his experience to good use and in 2009 took on the leadership of Dutch gene therapy specialist uniQure. There, he was responsible for the successful EMA approval of Glybera and for launching the Dutch company on the Nasdaq.
In 2016, Aldag took up the reigns at Hookipa, a biotech focusing on developing immunotherapy for both infectious diseases and cancer. Last month, he was yet again behind a successful IPO, raising €75M ($82M).
You have successfully led a number of different biotechs. What did you look for when deciding which companies to work for?
The thing that I’m passionate about is building platform technologies and translating them into companies that can actually develop multiple drugs for unmet medical needs. The current thread across all the companies that I was involved with is the technology platform, which you can leverage into many opportunities. I appreciate that much more than one trick ponies.
You have been involved in the public launch for several companies now.