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Fireside Chat: James Noble Says Go for IPO

October 20, 2015
“Go for it,” was the parting advice James Noble, CEO and co-founder of Adaptimmune, had for pre-IPO biotech companies attending today’s BIO Investor Forum fireside chat. But, he said, be prepared for scrutiny from all sides… and mountains of paperwork.

James co-founded Adaptimmune, a clinical-stage immunotherapy biopharmaceutical company, in July of 2008. At that time he was also part-time CEO of Immunocore, also a clinical-stage company engaged in T-cell receptor researches and develop. From this experience, James relayed a lesson learned - “Don’t be CEO of two companies.” The challenges of leading both companies led him to focus exclusively on Adaptimmune in March of 2014.

Moderator Tony Gibney of Leerink Partners asked James to talk through his strategy for selecting pre-IPO investors. To which James revealed he and colleagues did turn down an approximately $70M investment offer because it was coming from a non-U.S. based entity. In his own words, “despite my accent, the only market worth listing on is in the U.S.” Presumably the strings associated with this offer would have jeopardized a NASDAQ listing.

James said his job has changed dramatically since Adaptimmune went public in May of this year. He noted the amount of time spent reporting to his board of directors, as well as responding to media, vendor and analyst inquiries. While he undoubtedly encouraged early-stage biopharmas to consider an IPO funding strategy, he emphasized the need to select investors who will support you even if the IPO doesn’t happen.

Sharing further reflections on his recent IPO experience, James emphasized the need for preparedness on all levels. In addition to the regulatory and banking paperwork that must be done, partners and employees for must be prepared for tremendous scrutiny. He stressed that employees must understand and follow the rules, particularly when it comes from interest in would-be investors.

Not only is James bullish on biopharma, he sees the U.S. as the continued driver behind the expansion of the industry. “This country gives you a great opportunity to build great companies,” said James.