Dominique and Tom
The Octalfa model
We moved to Lyon in 1986. There were no opportunities at Institut Gustave Roussy yet we needed to provide for the security of Tom, who was born in 1985 with a physical and mental disability. My postdoctoral studies in the United States were now out of the question. Institut Mérieux made me an offer, and I joined the company in Marcy-l’Etoile, where I was put in charge of production. Institut Mérieux proved quite a culture shock, but also gave me a great deal of freedom. I got to conduct lots of trial tests… and make lots of mistakes. Then in 1994 there was IMTIX, and its subsequent merger with SangStat, dazzled by Nasdaq, 150 employees, an approval in the USA, another in Japan…
In 2000 I founded OPi, a venture that blends R&D activities with the marketing of medicinal products for the treatment of rare diseases.
Then Tom came within a hair’s breadth of dying, and Dominique became sick in 2002. By 2007 I was at the end of my tether, and conscious that there were limits to my way of doing things, and to my financial resources. So I sold OPi following a very short process, a decision that was to delight my shareholders, for whom it remained a long-lasting reference
Dominique and Tom
Dominique and I then created the Alberici-OCTALFA Corporate Foundation. OCTALFA, our family holding, was endowed with about twenty million euros, and went on to support innovative business projects and associations working with children in the fields of disabilities and cancer. The objective is civic commitment based on innovation, the economy and supporting vulnerable people.
Dominique passed away in 2008 and Tom in 2011.
The OCTALFA model
initiative OCTALFA’ corporate activity plan is to invest in projects that are compatible with our funding capacity by helping founders to implement a flexible strategy. We believed we could reproduce our successes with Thymoglobuline® (IMTIX, now SANOFI-Genzyme) and Erwinase® (OPi, now Jazz Pharmaceuticals), and create, with limited means, global products to treat rare diseases with high unmet medical needs. Although this wouldn’t be quite so easy to pull off these days, at the time we achieved some notable successes…
OCTALFA made its first investment in 2007 with Alizé Pharma, a company founded by Thierry Abribat, whom I brought over from Montreal to assist me with OPi. Thirteen others were to follow, approximately €22M were invested, and some ventures were new companies. Jérémy Bastid joined me in 2010 and was to play a key part in some companies supported by OCTALFA, namely OREGA Biotech (as early as 2010) and ORPHELIA Pharma (from 2015). My son Julien joined us in 2013. He divides his time between OCTALFA and MATHYM, which he created in 2014.
After careful consideration, in 2015 we decided to only finance companies in which we played a major operational role. After the acquisition of MATHYM by Baikowski in 2019, two companies fitted the description and will remain our subsidiaries: OREGA Biotech and ORPHELIA Pharma. The non-core activities have been consolidated to form Otonnale, an incubator for new projects and diversifications. Our commitment will extend into the future…
Gilles Alberici, November 2022