The Irish Times Business Person of the Month: Matt Cooper

Inflazome sells to Swiss pharma giant Roche for an initial €380 million

Cooper BofI
 

The spark behind Inflazome came when Australian chemist Matt Cooper met Irish immunologist Luke O’Neill at a medical conference. The two men brainstormed the role of inflammasomes - part of the body’s immune system - in a host of serious chronic diseases when they spiral out of control.

Eight years later - and four years after the two men set up the company in Dublin - Inflazome was sold to Swiss pharma giant Roche for an initial €380 million.

The price tag could yet be a multiple of that under an agreement that will see additional payments made if Inflazome’s drugs hit certain targets. That would make the deal the biggest takeout of an Irish business this year.

Explaining the decision to sell, Prof Cooper said: “Eventually, of course, the baby’s got to go to school and go to university, and it’s important to know, again for patients, what’s the right time to let that young kid go off and grow somewhere else”.

Reinvest

As company chief executive and co-founder, Prof Cooper is among the big winners financially in the deal. “Money comes, money goes,” he said. “For me, money is a tool. I’ll probably reinvest some of the funds back into the next drug company to try and get drugs for people. “I think it’s obviously nice but that’s not the reason we do what we do. We do what we do because there are people that need the medicines.”

And he is keen that the role of his co-founder and the company’s chief scientific officer does not get forgotten. “Make sure to give Luke credit,” he said. “He’s a great guy to work with.”