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MoFo Venture Capital Leader Joins Drug Manufacturing Startup (1)

Nov. 30, 2020, 11:01 AM; Updated: Nov. 30, 2020, 6:00 PM

Former Morrison & Foerster partner Ori Solomon is embracing change as the new legal chief at National Resilience Inc., a startup seeking to transform the way drugs are manufactured in the U.S. in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The problem we’re trying to solve and the need for what we’re doing is massive,” said Solomon of Resilience, a biotechnology company that just before Thanksgiving said it had assembled 750,000-square-feet of operating space to address systemic challenges for the production of advanced therapeutics.

Solomon was hired by Resilience in late August from MoFo, where he co-chaired its global emerging companies and venture capital practice in Boston after being hired by the firm last year to set up its office in the city. Solomon said the “unique opportunity” to help Resilience get off the ground drew him to his first in-house job.

La Jolla, Calif. and Boston-based Resilience emerged from stealth mode Nov. 23 by announcing it had raised $800 million in financing to shorten the amount of time it takes to manufacture breakthrough medicines and bring them to market.

“Ori has been a truly wonderful colleague and we are grateful for his many contributions to the firm,” said a statement from Eric McGrath, co-chair of MoFo’s global corporate department. “We are delighted that he has joined a life sciences client and wish him the very best in this new role.”

Solomon said he was outside counsel for more than a decade to Resilience founder Robert Nelsen, a managing director and co-founder of venture capital firm Arch Venture Partners LP. Nelsen has been behind dozens of life sciences and health care startups, such as Denali Therapeutics Inc., Juno Therapeutics Inc., Grail Inc., and Vir Biotechnology Inc., entities that Solomon advised in private practice.

Nelsen has been a longtime client of Proskauer and Robin Painter, co-head of the firm’s private funds group and its former corporate department co-leader, who Solomon credited with making his introduction to the entrepreneur. As Nelsen conceived the idea for Resilience, which was incorporated this past April, Solomon said Arch brought him in for the transactional work that formed the company.

“We want to reimagine the way that biologics and other complex medicines are manufactured in this country,” said Solomon of Resilience, which besides Arch is also backed by Eight Partners VC LLC and other investors. “It’s not just bringing manufacturing back to the U.S., but how can we do this better?”

Production Challenges

The Covid-19 crisis has brought increased scrutiny to the complex process for manufacturing and distributing vaccines, drugs, and other therapies in the U.S.

In response to pandemic-induced shortages, the Trump administration signed an executive order in August loosening federal drug safety and environmental rules to entice drug production to return to U.S. shores.

Solomon said Resilience will use its plants and facilities to help clients—be they large pharmaceutical companies or early-stage biopharmaceutical outfits—make each component of their manufacturing process “faster, more efficient, and cheaper.”

Public records show that Solomon’s former colleagues at MoFo have represented Resilience on trademarks for computer software that tracks drug orders, shipments, and deliveries.

Solomon began his legal career at Proskauer in New York. He relocated in 2011 to Boston, where Solomon became Proskauer’s local hiring partner.

Since joining Resilience he’s been working remotely near the city, which has become a hot bed for life sciences legal work. Solomon expects to relocate again early next year to Southern California once the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 subsidies.

In the interim, Solomon’s looking to hire lawyers with life sciences intellectual property expertise as Resilience builds out its in-house team. His new legal leadership role will involve figuring out the balance between what to do in-house and what to outsource to law firms.

“You can get a lot more value from outside counsel if you give them the right instructions,” Solomon said. “I always preferred it when clients gave me more guidance, background, and context, so I could be more efficient and effective.”

(Adds statement from MoFo in fifth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com
Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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