Galapagos is an undeniable success story. Set up in 1999, it is now one of the largest and most successful biotechs in Europe. A key driving force behind the company is Onno van de Stolpe, its founder and CEO.
After doing an internship at Biogen while at university, van de Stolpe knew he wanted to start his own biotech company. He became Managing Director of the European arm of US biotech supplier Molecular Probes in Leiden following a few years working in the industry. While there, the opportunity to start a new genomics division at the Dutch biotech Introgene presented itself. Less than a year later, this new division became the spin-out company Galapagos.
Van de Stolpe attributes his success to sticking to his own beliefs and not allowing others to dissuade him from what he wanted to do with the company. Earlier this year, Galapagos added to its many achievements the completion of two successful phase III trials of its drug candidate filgotinib for treating arthritis, which it now plans to put forward for market approval.
As a founder, it’s quite unusual to stay as long as you have at Galapagos. Why is that?
I always had the ambition from day one to really build a large biotech company. I said years and years ago to the team and later also to the outside world that our ambition was to be the largest European biotech.