Apr 01, 2022
OnCusp Therapeutics is a global biopharmaceutical company transforming a focused portfolio of first-in-class oncology assets from promising research into proven medicines. Over the past year, OnCusp has established a seasoned and high-caliber team and built a highly differentiated pipeline.
On the company’s first anniversary, we are honored to have the co-founders of OnCusp share with us their journey in the past year.
With reaching the milestone of OnCusp’s first anniversary, could you please share with us your journey in the past year?
Bing：For me, the whole first year experience can be summarized into three words: responsibility, humble and passion. I have served in a number of executive positions at different pharmaceutical and biotech companies, but this is my first time as a co-founder and CEO. A CEO is ultimately responsible for key company decisions, which have prolonged effects on the company’s future. Staying humble and clear-headed is critical so I will not disappoint those who trusted me and joined this endeavor. Although past year was quite challenging, I remain very passionate about what we do, as we are building a biotech company according to a clear vision and an unique business model. I am confident that we will bring meaningful therapies for patients.
What’s the biggest challenge you faced during the year? How did you overcome it?
Bing: The external environment has undergone drastic changes in the past year. The biotech industry experienced one of the biggest downturns in recent years with respect to the captical market. This resulted in a much less friendly primary market for biotechs. As a startup, we expected and are prepared for all kinds of challenges. Resilience is essential to leading a successful company. Now we need to focus on advancing our pipeline and validating our business model. I believe that in every dark cloud there is a silver lining.
Eric：For me, the biggest challenge was adapting to a small start-up environment after several decades in large pharma, with many team members and near-unlimited resources. I had to build up a pool of expert consultants and advisors to help support our work, while I built a stellar team in parallel. It was very difficult, but I had no doubt that I could figure out a way to make it work, and I did.
Please share your most memorable moment from the past year.
Bing：The most memorable moment for me is the opening of our Shanghai office. Just like a baby’s first step, the office opening signifies the commencement of OnCusp operations.
Andy: Signing our first deal! One of the biggest challenges is to convince a partner to out-license their crown jewel asset to a startup company like OnCusp. In the end, we were able to convince our partners through our team’s professionalism and impressive track record.
What is the achievement you felt most proud of this year?
Eric：I am proud of building the excellent team that I have. I recruited some exceptionally talented and dedicated scientists and associates, and created the foundation of an R&D team capable of great things.
Andy： Build a great pipeline with FIC/first-wave assets within a short period of time. During the past year, we engaged more than 100 companies and evaluated over 200 assets. Our efforts paid off as we now have 3 programs in our pipeline. This is great validation that the value propositions of our business model is resonating with our partners. With this good start, we will continue our efforts to deliver help and hope to cancer patients worldwide.
How did you persuade your first hire to join the team?
Bing：According to our business model, we need a global translational medicine and clinical development expert to join the team as a co-founder from the beginning. We were fortunate to find Eric. He literally answered my call while lying on the beach in Howaii, enjoying his vacation after departure from Daiichi Sankyo. With solid scientific, clinical and leadership backgrounds, he certainly could easily find a job in a big pharma. But he finally decided to take on the challenge to join us after thorough assessment of OnCusp’s business model, strategy and capability of other team members. Now we have an excellent co-founder and Head of R&D.
Andy： I lured him by telling him how exciting BD is. I shared with him the thrills of negotiating and closing a deal. I also shared with him how BD was able to accelerate my career path and I can help to do the same for him.
What about OnCusp that gives you confidence in the company’s future?
Eric： Innovative thinking, perseverance, and the focus on curing cancer.
Andy：It is always about the people. We have an incredible team of industry veterans who are highly motivated and believe in OnCusp. That gives me the most confidence.
How is OnCusp differentiated from other biotech companies?
Eric：Our unique business model sets us apart, which is to tackle the part of the drug development value chain that has the highest risk but also highest return. In addition, we are focused on developing first-in-class/first-wave assets for the global market. We are confident that the combination of our BD capabilities, scientific depth, and ability to execute will result in significant value increase for our assets as we develop it from PCC to POC.
Andy：Our “global DNA”. OnCusp has been a global company from day one. Our executive and key functional leaders all have extensive global drug development experience. We have either global rights or ex-China rights for all of our pipeline assets and will focus our drug development for the global market.
Bing：We have established a very diverse team with different backgrounds across the U.S. and China. Our corporate culture encourages open debates among the team. We bounce ideas off each other and constantly generate innovative sparks. The combination of diverse talent and open culture contributes to different thoughts and perspectives, allowing the management team to have a more comprehensive view when making decisions.
Please use 1-2 sentences to express your wish for the next year of OnCusp.
Bing：You can always talk about strategy, but it is flawless execution that leads to the success of a company. Next year, I am hoping to work together with the team to deliver what we have promised: bring at least one asset to the IND stage and become a clinical stage company, which is one step closer to our dream to bring innovative drugs to cancer patients worldwide.