Case Study:


The Client:

A new company created from an academic spin-out. The company was seed funded by US and EU VC investors ($7m) to demonstrate the up-scale potential of their platform technology in protein modulation. The company is in stealth mode with a UK headquarters.

The Objective:

Following on from the seed investment, the investors wished to identify and recruit a CEO to run the company. The formation of the company had largely been driven by the investors, with some input from the scientific founder, who remains in his academic position. The CEO would need to take this completely new platform technology and develop a strategy that would firstly demonstrate the scale-up potential of the platform, and how it could be translated into commercial viability. It was agreed, that the CEO would need deep strategic capabilities as well as a scientific pedigree in small molecule discovery and development. 

The Search Approach:

  • Worked with the investors to develop a clear sense of the profile. Further defined the profile to meet the specific requirements surfacing during a series of briefings.
  • Undertook a deep evaluation of the company’s technology and strategic plan. Used this understanding to begin developing the proposition to take to market. The sector is experiencing considerable growth and competition for talent, so positioning the company in the landscape was critical to the project’s success.
  • With an understanding of the full leadership and strategic requirements of the role, Liftstream developed a competency matrix that would guide the search at all stages leading up to the shortlist, as well as beyond. Created a role-specific search strategy and candidate assessment methodology.
  • The desire for the appointed Chief Executive Officer to be located in the UK or Boston, Massachusetts, meant our search strategy needed to straddle the UK/EU and US markets. Included in this was the concept of finding a UK national now domiciled in the US but with the freedom and interest to travel frequently.
  • Invested the necessary time to analyse the protein modulation market and all the companies and stakeholders that we were connected with. This comprehensive overview was provided to the investors and offered competitive insights previously unknown.
  • Acknowledging the competition for CEOs, our focus on executing the strategy by exercising our deep understanding of the sector, alongside clear and regular communication, garnered a deep pool of candidates that were seen to meet the requirements defined early on. The shortlist of 5 candidates (2 women, 3 men) was high quality and led to a male and female candidate reaching the final assessment stage.

The Outcome:

The investors, independent board members, scientific founder and senior staff were all involved in evaluating several candidates. Ultimately, two very compelling candidates were advanced to the final stage. One candidate was UK based, and the other Boston, MA. The board decided to appoint the UK candidate. The selected candidate offered more experience in the CEO position and had previously spent time working with venture investors in growing early-stage discovery and development-oriented small molecule companies.