26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Axel Bouchon, Leaps by Bayer

Axel Bouchon is head of Leaps by Bayer, formerly known as Bayer Lifescience Center, Germany-based pharmaceutical and chemical producer Bayer’s investment vehicle which seeks innovative pharmaceutical technologies strategically pertinent to the parent organisation’s business. He is also a member of the Bayer research and development executive committee.

In recent years, healthcare and life sciences have become increasingly tech-focused. In an interview held with Business Insider in January last year, Bouchon was quoted as saying: “The true disruption of the next five to 10 years will come at the interface of tech and biotech.”

He added that he hoped this intersection of tech and biotech would help patients, even though he admitted that “both sides miss fundamental expertise” and needed individuals who could think differently.

“The potential of how biophysical data could be combined with data management will revolutionise the pharmaceutical industry and all of life sciences. And interestingly, nobody on the tech side nor on our side has the solution.”

Bayer acquired US-based agrochemical producer Monsanto for a total consideration of $62.5bn in June 2018 and the latter’s corporate venture capital unit Monsanto Growth Ventures (MGV) was renamed three months later to Bayer Growth Ventures (BGV) and would carry on its operations.

John Hamer and Kiersten Stead, former directors of MGV, left the new organisation in April to join venture capital firm Data Collective in San Francisco to set up a new $250m life sciences-focused fund.

Initially, Bayer crop science division president Liam Condon said the company was keen on MGV’s past activities but were unsure of how to integrate it.

Condon noted at the time: “We are hotly debating it. We cannot conclude anything yet because Monsanto is still a standalone company, but we are very excited about what we see and know of MGV. We think it is a great model.”

Eventually, Leaps by Bayer’s team has taken over the management of the unit and Jürgen Eckhardt, head of Bayer venture investments, was named interim head of Bayer Growth Ventures before March’s appointment of Derek Norman, former head of Syngenta’s corporate venturing unit, to vice-president.

Bouchon told St Louis Business Journal in September 2018: “The Bayer Growth Venture concept is perfectly complementary to the portfolio of Leaps by Bayer. By bringing both approaches together under the roof of one organisational unit, we do now avail of all tools in equity management that are necessary to foster disruptive innovation, capture trends and tap into external innovation potential.”

Bayer said Leaps by Bayer would give emphasis to health and agriculture opportunities, while BGV would expand Bayer’s reach to health, nutrition, life sciences technologies and agritech and would concentrate on early rounds as MGV did. BGV conducts its deals from offices in Berlin, Germany as well as Boston, St Louis and San Francisco in the US.

Eckhardt told AgFunder in October 2018: “BGV spans across the innovation of agriculture and life sciences, ‘cross-pollinating’ the two disciplines where those opportunities exist. This is one of the reasons we’re particularly excited to not only keep the former MGV’s innovation engine running, but to take it to the next level and solve some of our world’s greatest challenges.”

Bouchon previously served as senior vice-president of new business and product concepts at US-based vaccine developer Moderna Therapeutics. In that role, he formed, funded and ran startups that investigated human, animal and plant diseases.

Before Moderna, Bouchon held different roles at Bayer, for example, he headed its pharmaceutical arm Bayer HealthCare overseeing pharmaceuticals, consumer and animal health products and medical devices.

Bouchon holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, organic chemistry and immunology from Eberhard Karls University and a doctorate from University of Tübingen.