Europe Is Catching Biotech Fever

More startups are going public--and luring crowds of investors

In the early 1980s, Dinko Valerio was laboring in obscurity at the Netherlands' Leiden University. His big break came when he cloned the gene whose mutation causes ADA deficiency, a rare hereditary disease that weakens the body's ability to fight infection. Soon after, Genentech Inc. invited him to spend four months at its California headquarters. Inspired, Valerio returned to his native Holland, quit his academic post, and founded a company called IntroGene, backed by a Dutch venture-capital firm. Now, Valerio says, U.S. and European investment bankers are pestering him to take his company public. "They all see Europe as a growth market," says the bemused 40-year-old.

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