By Wayne Koberstein, Executive Editor, Life Science Leader magazine
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Deliberate invention, aimed at starting a biopharma business, can be a valid, creative, and sometimes rewarding enterprise. Many or perhaps most of the companies in this space begin as a scientific concept looking for a medical application. But examples of the opposite model — gathering appropriate expertise around the table to identify and select a scientific target for a new business — could be rare. In the case of Apellis, the way less traveled began with a relatively safe sendoff. The company was born from the winning entry of the 2001 Harvard Business School Business Plan Competition, but then only as a concept, called Potentia Pharmaceuticals. Although the plan envisioned therapeutic applications involving nanobiotechnology to support the then popular approach of high-throughput screening (HTS), the underlying science and technology were then nonexistent.