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A Fresh Take

Insights on M&A, litigation, and corporate governance in the US.

| 4 minutes read

Key Takeaways from the 21st Annual Biomed Israel Conference

The 21st annual Biomed Israel Conference, attended by thousands of industry leaders from 45 countries, presented a juxtaposition of challenges and opportunities in the life sciences sector. There was a focus on the effects of the worldwide economic downturn and industry-specific concerns surrounding investment, drug pricing reform, and anti-trust regulator overreach. Amidst these challenges, however, there was palpable enthusiasm surrounding the innovative Israel life science ecosystem, the convergence of life sciences and technology, and remarkable advances in diagnostics, medical devices, biotech, and digital health. Our Freshfields Life Sciences team attended and engaged in discussions with clients and industry players. From these interactions, we observed the following themes.


While 2022 saw a slowdown in the Israel M&A market, following the similar global trend, 2022 also saw the successful acquisition of six Israeli life sciences companies for an aggregate amount of over $1 billion. International industry executives were optimistic that late 2023 and 2024 would see an uptick in life sciences M&A. They observed that biopharma M&A execution has been rewarded by investors in the past, with there being a correlation between companies who have deployed capital on growth focussed M&A and a strong return for shareholders. In an analysis of the 39 public biotech and pharma M&A transactions since 2019 with $1 billion plus transaction value, Evercore highlighted how recent biopharma deals have had low levels of bidding interest and are overwhelmingly initiated by partnership discussions (85% of M&A was won by the initial bidder; 79% of deals were unsolicited and were initiated by partnership discussions; and 64% of M&A was with a single bidder).


Funding of the Israeli life science sector has felt the effects of the global macro-economic downturn, following a similar trajectory as the life sciences sectors in the US and in Europe. 2021 saw a peak of close to $4 billion in funding, slowing down to $1.7 billion in the first three quarters of 2022. The IPO market remains quiet, and few predicted any uptick for the next 18 months. In the current market, investors encouraged innovative companies to prioritize revenue and profitability, with EBITDA now a central consideration, where it might not have always been in the life sciences sector, in particular during peak 2021. Despite the subdued market, emphasis was placed on the significant appreciation of life sciences valuations over recent times and executives predicted the next 10/15 years would ultimately show stronger growth than the previous 10/15 years. 

Licensing and collaborations.

While the M&A and capital raising markets remain quiet, focus was placed on the trend of moving towards licensing and collaborations. Emerging biopharma companies (those with an estimated expenditure on R&D of less than $200million and less than $500million in revenue annually) are responsible for a record of 65% of the molecules in R&D pipeline, up from less than 50% in 2016 and 33% in 2001. These companies therefore continue to be seen as attractive partners for big pharma. A whole afternoon of sessions at the Biomed Israel Conference was dedicated to navigating global collaborations in times of uncertainty, with representatives from big pharma and their biotech/MedTech counterparts offering valuable insights into the complexities of the partnerships and how best to maximise those relationships. Based on our discussions, we anticipate continued prioritization of licensing and collaborations in this difficult financing environment.   

Fields of interest.

The conference featured discussions on wide-ranging fields of interest. One of the key areas of focus was on optimizing the interaction of AI and biopharma. Many executives highlighted the expanding capabilities of AI, including drug discovery, enhancing patient outcomes and experiences (personalised care beyond the confines of a clinic) and accelerating medicine development (using predictive models to design better and faster clinical trials). Another emerging frontier was that of the brain and neuroscience, with talks led by Biogen and Ipsen on their ground-breaking initiatives. Participants debated whether neuroscience could be the next major breakthrough field, the new oncology. The conference also featured discussions on the intersection of foodtech and biomedicine, which is emerging as an exciting area for exploration, emphasizing the potential of leveraging biomedicine in addressing global food challenges.

Topical industry-wide for deeper analysis on the FTC suit. 

In various discussions, emphasis was placed on the US’ Inflation Reduction Act and the impact on development and investment decisions it is already having (including the prioritisation of large molecules over small molecules by investors and innovators). The recent FTC suit to block Amgen’s purchase of Horizon Therapeutics and the impact that could have on the industry was also flagged by executives. See our blog post

Abraham Accords related opportunities.

Delegates from the UAE and Morocco attended the Biomed Israel Conference for the first time, highlighting the growing collaboration between Israel and its regional neighbours through the Abraham Accords. Discussions focused on healthcare innovation and the potential for collaboration between the countries. Notable advancements signifying the positive momentum in the region in the life sciences space include: investment by Emirati Apex National Investment in Israeli firm TeraGroup; investment by Emirati ADQ in Israeli Aleph Farms; healthcare collaborations signed between various UAE, Bahrain and Israel entities on medical research; and the agreement between Morocco’s Ministry of Health and the Israeli IMS Ovadia which will see $500 million of Israeli investment into building hospitals in Morocco.

The 21st annual Biomed Israel Conference served as a platform to address challenges faced by the life sciences industry while celebrating promising advancements and innovations across the sector. As the industry continues to navigate uncertainties, the conference emphasized the importance of resilience, adaptability, and visionary leadership. At Freshfields, we continue to track the industry-wide developments highlighted at the Biomed Israel Conference, and our team looks forward to supporting the life sciences sector as it brings innovative therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics and MedTech products to market. 


life sciences, regulation, antitrust and competition, corporate, finance, m&a