A scientist turned entrepreneur, Christopher Evans is one of the forces behind Europe's emerging biotech industry. The 43-year-old Welshman has stakes in 20 European biotech companies and has funded a dozen others involved in cutting-edge areas such as stem cells and gene therapy. Despite volatile capital markets, he has managed to take four of them public. And as chairman of London-based venture-capital and advisory firm Merlin Biosciences, he aims to become one of the world's leading biotech investors.
In Europe, he is well on his way. Merlin invested $30 million in six companies last year, and participated in some of Europe's biggest biotech private-equity deals with investors like Nomura International and J.P. Morgan Chase. Altogether, Evans manages $365 million in three separate funds. One of his early investments was a company called Chiroscience that in 1999 merged with another, Celltech, to become Britain's biggest biotech company. It now has a market value of $2.5 billion. Not bad.
Evans' legendary Midas touch has earned him a knighthood in Britain and membership in Prime Minister Tony Blair's coterie of advisers. A tireless crusader for entrepreneurs, Evans advises Blair on ways to encourage innovative small businesses via tax and other incentives. Meanwhile, he maintains his ties with academic scientists as a professor of biotechnology at three British universities, including his alma mater, London's Imperial College of Science, Technology & Medicine. If Europe's biotech industry has a center, it's Chris Evans.