What is PULS?

PULS is a Swedish life science company with a unique combination of scientists and industrialists who together with innovators are commercializing ideas by providing capital, know-how and committed partnership.

PULS enters projects at an early stage and carries the scientific and business development from innovation to an attractive investment opportunity for the industry by starting virtual project companies. PULS consists of an operational team as well as over 40 partners with vast experience within life science and throughout the entire value chain, from R&D to commercialization.

PULS has started ten project companies since 2003, exited three, one of which is listed on the Nasdaq OMX First North, Stockholm, Sweden. Only one of ten projects has been terminated.

When was PULS founded?

PULS was founded on February 1, 2002, in Helsingborg, Sweden, by a number of people with backgrounds in the pharmaceutical industry and research. The company became operative in the fall of 2003.

The founders had discovered that many commercially interesting projects never leave the academy due to a lack of resources and proficiency in product and business development. They also had discerned that the pharma industry’s need to license new projects and products would increase. Thus, PULS was started as a bridge between academia and industry. The first portfolio company, LIDDS AB, started in the fall of 2003 followed by DuoCort AB in the spring of 2004.

How is PULS organized?

PULS consists of an operational team and 40 partners with vast experience in life science and expertise throughout the entire value chain, from R&D to commercialization. PULS evaluates new projects in collaboration with its partners and external experts. After securing capital, PULS works jointly with the portfolio companies throughout the entire development process until exit. The board of PULS consists of representatives of partners and major shareholders.

Why choose PULS?

PULS is a Swedish life science company with a unique combination of scientists and industrialists who together with innovators are commercializing ideas by providing capital, know-how and committed partnership.

PULS is an attractive alternative for researchers who would like to commercialize an idea without having to start companies, become entrepreneurs, or take the risks and do all the work required to succeed.

PULS is a small and cost-efficient organization, with a lean decision-making process that manages its projects in close collaboration with the innovators.

PULS has a proven track record. For example, PULS has succeeded in getting a medication approved within the EU and successfully sold two portfolio companies, including DuoCort – a deal valued at 1 billion SEK.

Is PULS focused on certain therapeutic areas?

No. PULS engages in life science projects with a well-defined medical need, solid scientific evidence and an opportunity for exclusivity on the market. Our main focus is pharmaceuticals, but we are also interested in e-health and drug-like med tech. PULS’s preference is to get involved as the first investor.

What is required to interest PULS in a project?

We engage in life science projects with a well-defined medical need, solid scientific evidence and an opportunity for exclusivity on the market. Our main focus is pharmaceuticals, but we are also interested in e-health and drug-like med tech. PULS’s preference is to get involved as the first investor.

To qualify as a PULS project an idea shall contain the following three basic criteria:

  • Medical benefit with significant potential and a clear business opportunity.
  • A strong IP position and patenting opportunity.
  • A clear project objective, reasonably defined in time and money.

We prefer to engage early on with innovators to found a legal entity, ensure an optimal IP strategy and secure a high-quality development process throughout the project. Our involvement in the project development is based on a proven business model securing return on investment.

What is PULS´s business model?

The decision to start a project company is formally made by the board, after careful evaluation of the project together with PULS’s partners. Once the decision has been made to launch the project, the innovators are given substantial equity in the project company. When the portfolio company is formed, PULS creates a project plan with a strategy for duration, financing and exit. The rules for how the innovators’ equity will be affected during project development are defined in advance.

PULS appoints a project leader/CEO for the project company and provides project management, long-term financing, accounting and administrative support. Innovators are expected to take on a vital, active role in the project by contributing with their expertise. The innovators often lead the scientific development and sit on the company’s board. Our common objective is to commercialize the value of the product ideas through a successful exit.

What is PULS’ investment focus?

Our main focus is pharmaceuticals, but we are also interested in e-health and drug-like med tech. PULS’s preference is to get involved as the first investor.

How early in the innovation process is PULS prepared to engage?

PULS prefers to engage at an early stage, preferably at the beginning of a defined project, in order to be able to support the project and optimize the development of the project plan and patent strategy at an early stage.

How late does PULS enter a project?

PULS prefers to enter at an early stage, preferably at the beginning of a defined project, in order to be able to support the project and optimize the development of the project plan and patent strategy at an early stage, but there are exceptions to this rule.

What does it mean that “PULS is exit-orientated from the start”?

In order to get the highest possible payoff for the time and money invested by all stakeholders, it is important to have a defined exit strategy from the start. In other words, there should be clear strategy for when and how the company will be divested. The goal is often to sell the portfolio company to a pharmaceutical company with the potential to take the project all the way to the patient and the marketplace. The defined exit strategy ensures that the focus will be on the right activities at all the times throughout the project.

Has PULS exited any companies?

In 2009 Ambria Dermatology AB was sold after PULS had run the project for five years. Ambria developed a technological platform to prolong the lifecycle of dermatological and hygiene products. The profits were three times the invested capital.

DuoCort, who developed Plenadren® (a medication for treating adrenal insufficiency) was sold in 2011 to an American pharmaceutical company (ViroPharma, now known as Shire). DuoCort was started and run by PULS for seven years and the final value of the sale was more than 1 billion SEK, or 12 times the invested capital.

In 2014 LIDDS was listed on the Nasdaq OMX First North (Stockholm, Sweden) and is since then no longer a project company within PULS.  However, PULS remains as a shareholder with 6 % of the shares.

Who owns PULS?

PULS is owned by its partners, associate partners, and the board of directors, as well as a number of private and corporate investors. PULS has approximately 100 shareholders in total. The largest shareholder is Länsförsäkringar, a Swedish insurance company group.

How much money can PULS’s investors contribute to a project and how?

PULS focuses on projects with the need for investments of up to MSEK 60. The projects are normally actively managed between three and seven years. In some cases, the project’s development is prolonged and a new funding plan is established. Investments are always made in increments according to what is needed until the next milestone.

How does PULS create value in its portfolio companies?

PULS’s evaluation criteria ensure that the idea shall contain the following three basic criteria to qualify as a PULS project:

  • Medical benefit with significant potential and a clear business opportunity.
  • A strong IP position and patenting opportunity.
  • A clear project objective, reasonably defined in time and money.

We prefer to engage early on with innovators to found a legal entity, ensure an optimal IP strategy and secure a high-quality development process throughout the project.

PULS contributes with its expertise to the board and management, as well as secures long-term cash flow until the projects exits. When the optimal time for exit has been reached, PULS identifies a suitable purchaser. Our involvement in the project development is based on a proven business model securing return on investment.

How much money has PULS and its portfolio companies acquired?

Since the start in 2002, PULS has raised more than MSEK 500 in venture capital to the portfolio companies and MSEK 120 to PULS.

What does it mean to be a PULS partner?

PULS partnership consists of around 40 individuals who represent the entire value chain; from chemical, pharmaceutical and clinical development to investment management and project exit. Around half of the partners come from the world of academia and research and the other half are from the pharmaceutical industry. The partnership’s combined expertise generates and develops new ideas for project startups. Once PULS’s criteria have been fulfilled, there is a basis for a new project company. Partners also act as experts within their own specialties when evaluating new project ideas that are received from external researchers.

What does it mean to be a PULS associate partner?

Associate partners must meet the same competence requirements as partners, but are not expected to be consistently involved at the same high level as a partner.

What about diversity?

We believe that diversity is important for a sustainable and healthy business. One example is that we actively aim to recruit more female partners and board members. Currently, there are 20 male partners and two female partners and nine male and eight female associate partners.

Why aren’t PULS’s partners employed by PULS or its portfolio companies?

The idea behind PULS’s business model is that the partners are only engaged in the project companies as needed. It would be too costly for the startups to carry the costs full-time. Instead the specific expertise is available for the duration and to the extent it is needed.

How does PULS collaborate with the researchers/innovators?

The projects are carried out together with the researchers/innovators, who often continue to have an active role in the project development. The companies are jointly owned. The researchers/innovators are members of the project team and in some cases also members of the board.

In the portfolio companies, how are board positions appointed?

Each board typically has five members. Two are appointed by the innovators and three, including the chairman, are appointed by PULS.

Does PULS have any specific geographical focus?

PULS has no geographical constraints. The projects’ quality is more important than their geographical origins. However, the project companies are run as Swedish corporations, most often based in Helsingborg.