Proud to Call Fremont Home
We recently met with Michael Raab, CEO of Ardelyx Inc., a biotechnology company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of therapies to treat cardio-renal, GI, and metabolic diseases.
This interview with Mike is the latest installment in our life sciences blog series.
Here’s his take on setting up shop in Fremont and his vision for the life sciences industry in Fremont, Silicon Valley, and beyond.
City of Fremont: What are some of the reasons why Ardelyx chose to settle in Fremont?
Michael Raab: We originally chose Fremont over other cities in the Bay Area because it was centrally located and (here’s the clincher) very affordable. As a new company, we found this extremely important, since we were able to allocate more funds toward growing and focusing on our business goals rather than on excessive overhead costs. We’ve called Fremont home for more than seven years now, and we couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
Fremont: Thanks! We’ll take that as a compliment. So, what can you tell us about your life sciences counterparts throughout the rest of Silicon Valley?
MR: This is a very exciting time for life sciences companies here in Silicon Valley, and we’re thankful to be a part of it. In 2008, we saw many smaller companies in the industry hit hard by the financial crisis. Unfortunately, many companies were unable to stay afloat. With the support and confidence from our investors and our development partners, which include AstraZeneca and Sanofi, we have been fortunately shielded from the crisis. But, in the last five years or so, we’ve been very encouraged by the resurgence of venture capital firms investing in the space, allowing both new andexisting companies to flourish and innovate in a wide variety of therapeutic areas.
Fremont: Got it. So, besides funding, what are some other challenges life sciences companies need to overcome?
MR: Drug discovery and development is an extremely expensive undertaking. By its nature, it takes years (sometimes decades) before a company knows whether or not its drug is going to work in the manner expected. Thus, the time horizon for many investors can be quite long. Gaining confidence and support is vital. Collaborations with like-minded partners can also help move development and clinical programs along.
Fremont: Flipping the coin, what is pivotal to the success of a life sciences company?
MR: Ensuring that a company has a strong source of capital is undoubtedly important. Our IPO, as well as an additional milestone payment following a successful trial of our lead product candidate, Tenapanor, puts Ardelyx in a well-funded place as we continue ahead with our development programs. Innovative ideas that can address unmet needs are vital as well, though not possible without a strong scientific and clinical team, which we have attracted. Being located in Silicon Valley has allowed Ardelyx to build a team of unique, talented individuals across all disciplines of the company.
Fremont: Any closing thoughts on what we can expect to see from the life sciences industry in 2015?
MR: The industry is evolving at a rapid pace, and over the last two years, the IPO market for life science companies has been very strong. In 2015, we should see much more clinical data in exciting areas such as immunotherapy for cancer, novel ways to treat cardio-renal disease, and hopefully more rapid approval of drugs by the Food and Drug Administration.
On a more personal level, we are very encouraged and enthusiastic about Ardelyx’s future prospects. We believe that we have the components to emerge from a development-stage biotechnology company into a commercial leader in our space. And, we are proud that we are able to do all of this in Fremont.
First-in-Class Therapeutics Creating Safer Drugs Targeted Therapies