Curevac from Tübingen is a beacon of hope in the fight against Corona. Twenty years ago, the founders struggled to scrape together enough money for their laboratory. An eyewitness report.
Dhe establishment of CureVac as a GmbH in the fall of 2002 came a year or two too late. In 1999 and 2000, IPOs with astronomical valuations based on little more than a good idea were still entirely possible. Some biotech companies raised 50 or 100 million euros and more on the capital market to finance their product developments. Then the break-in followed. Former biotech stars of the Neuer Markt such as Medigene, Lion Bioscience, MorphoSys, Evotech or Qiagen were suddenly no longer credited with the previously assumed growth potential. Medigene’s share price fell within two years from over 480 euros to around 10 euros, or only around 2 percent of the value the company had reached in 2000.
The prices of the other biotech stocks performed similarly. Venture capital firms and private investors turned their backs on the industry. The search for the urgently needed capital for CureVac’s business plan turned out to be correspondingly difficult, which at the time exactly fitted the “don’t list” of lessons learned from the bursting bubble: Products that could be marketed quickly were wanted, no longer technologies with a long development time. The management of CureVac was not trusted to assert itself. In short, the sources of capital were dried up and good alternatives were not in sight.