Dr. Vladimir Cmiljanovic, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, is Switzerland's leading serial pharma entrepreneur, a medicinal chemist, and cancer scientist with more than fifteen years of experience in oncology drug development. He is the co-author of numerous scientific articles and abstracts and inventor of 4 patent families with more than 400 registered patents.
Together with his sister Natasa, Vladimir co-discovered the drug BIMIRALISIB (PQR309) in 2007 at the University of Basel. BIMIRALISIB is the best-in-class oral and brain-penetrant dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitor, with applications in various cancer indications. For his scientific contribution in the PI3K-AKT-mTOR research field, Vladimir won the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Award from the University of Basel in 2009, and the Novartis and University of Basel Excellence Scholarship for Life Sciences in 2011.
In 2010, Vladimir was the winner of the Swiss Venture Kick for the elaboration of the PIQUR business idea. He founded the company PIQUR Therapeutics AG in 2011, as a spin-off of the University of Basel, to develop BIMIRALISIB. Vladimir led PIQUR as CEO and Vice-Chairman and made it an international biotech company. His entrepreneurial skills and a global network of scientists, experts, and investors brought over 80 Million USD of funding to PIQUR and attracted top-tier scientific experts and leadership personnel. In 2014, Vladimir won with PIQUR the Northwest Switzerland Young Entrepreneur Award, and in 2015, the Swiss Economic Forum Award.
In 2016, Vladimir founded TargImmune Therapeutics AG; a biotechnology company focused on cancer cell-targeted immunotherapies, for which he raised 22 Million USD in seed funding.
Swiss Rockets AG, Vladimir’s latest enterprise, was founded in 2018, to become a leading biotech hub with a unique business model. Swiss Rockets will combine the most advanced and effective technologies in the fight against cancer with cancer prevention methods and techniques. Vladimir was a professional handball player and a national player for Serbia.
Dr. Kenneth C. Korfmann is an experienced professional in the fields of banking, business, and human resources consulting. In 1997 Kenneth founded the executive search firm Korfmann Burnett & Partner AG, after two years as the Partner responsible for the Financial Services Practice across Europe at another prominent international consulting firm. He previously served as the Chief Operating Officer of Coutts Bank with responsibility for all non-UK international activities of the bank, and before he was the Chief Executive Officer responsible for Private Banking at Citibank Switzerland.
Kenneth is presently a member of the Senior Advisory Board of Agilitas Partners LLP and was Co-Founder and Vice Chairman of PBS Private Bank Switzerland until it was sold to Credit Suisse. He also served as Chairman of ScienceMatters, an internet open-platform science publishing company, as a non-executive member of the board at Lazard GmbH, Zürich, and as a member of the Advisory Board of the Symbiotics Group, Geneva.
Christoph Rentsch is a well-known expert in corporate finance as well as private and public funding markets with more than 25 years of experience in the life science field. From 1991 to 1994, Christoph was developing his professional carrier in Switzerland and the US, where he led various senior management functions for the Alusuisse-Lonza Group. Subsequently, he joined F. Hoffmann-La Roche to become Head of Group Funding and Capital Markets, responsible for all of Roche’s Finance transactions on Group level for almost 10 years. He was a partner at Caperis Ltd, a life science investment management firm, Chief Financial Officer and member of the executive committee of both Polyphor, and most recently, Santhera Pharmaceuticals. With outstanding experience in business and finances, Christoph is also a board member of TargImmune Therapeutics AG and is a partner at Independent Capital Group AG since 2020.
Dr. Sabina R. Korfmann-Bodenmann is a specialist in the financial sector, who gained international experience in the US and India. After a successful banking career, Sabina founded Korfmann Corporate Communications Consulting AG (KCCC) in 2001, a communications company exclusively specialized in financial institutions. Today, KCCC serves leading international firms in the financial sector. Dr. Korfmann-Bodenmann is a member of several boards of directors and trustees. She has written several books, including Living Heritage – Centuries in Business (2016) and Brooklyn – Heritage Reclaimed (2017). Sabina is a Visiting Artist at the Art History Institute of the University of Zürich.
Michel Petignat is a qualified HR Specialist in the Life Sciences industry. During his long and outstanding professional carrier, Michel worked as an HR Manager in leading pharma and biotech companies such as Sandoz, Novartis Pharma, Syngenta Crop Protection and Actelion Pharmaceuticals. He was responsible for the selection and recruitment of personnel and the support of line managers (HR policy, disciplinary procedures, recruitment, etc.).
From 2001 until 2004, Michel worked in addition as a Head of Recruitment and Support Basel in Syngenta Crop Protection. From 2005 he was an expert for the “Human Resources Swiss Exams” society in the domain “Leadership and Communication” and served as a member of the association’s managing committee in 2012 - 2018. In 2013 he became an HR Business Partner of the Department Drug Discovery in Actelion Pharmaceuticals. Michel has in-depth experience in an operational HR work from recruitment through support and development to exit. Due to exceptional technical and personal skills, he always received a high degree of personal acceptance and respect from customers (managers, employees).
Dr. Josef Künzle, Chief Quality Officer, joined Swiss Rockets AG as Chief Quality Officer after taking early retirement from Basilea in 2018, where he was Head of Global Quality Management in the independent Quality Unit, and as a member of the Extended Management Team since August 2015. He joined Basilea in 2007 as a Quality Assurance Project Manager. He was promoted in May 2009 to Head Quality Unit Technical Operations, a position in which he led the GMP/GDP QA group. In 2013, he became Head of Global QM.
Since 1989, he has held various positions in the pharmaceutical industry with increasing responsibility, from 1989 to 1998 as Analytical R&D/QC at Sandoz Pharma AG/Novartis Pharma AG in Basel (including FDA inspection on Sandimmun Neoral), from 1998 to 2003 in QC/QM at Carbogen AG in Aarau, and from 2003 to 2007 in QC/QM at Permamed AG in Therwil. Josef holds a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Zurich (Switzerland) and was a Post-Doc in the Civil Engineering Department at Stanford University, California. Since 1997, he has given numerous GMP training classes in the area of QC/QA.
Maciej Talarek, Chief Financial Officer, started his career in the insurance industry. As a result, he specialized in accounting and found his future in the fiduciary sector. Maciej has been a successful self-employed trustee since 2013.
He has supported, advised, and assisted many startup companies. In addition to his federal diploma as a chartered specialist in Accounting and Financial Management, he is an expert in Swiss GAAP FER and a tax specialist for self-employed persons.
Saif Al-Rubai, Chief Legal and Corporate Dev. Officer, received his law degree in 2009 and was admitted to the bar of Basel-Country in 2012. As an experienced lawyer and trusted deputy to a law firm partner, he has successfully designed, developed, and implemented legal case strategies and tactics in a variety of legal fields for the last seven years, including several Swiss Federal Court cases.
In 2018, Saif obtained an EMBA at Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz FHNW, as well as an MBA from Edinburgh Business School, where he graduated with distinction. Saif brings a valuable combination of legal and business skills to the Corporate Development Office at Swiss Rockets.
Manuel Ebner is an expert in corporate finance, business strategy, corporate development, management consulting, and financial services. He graduated in engineering and economics from Stanford University and completed his MBA (Arjay Miller Scholar) at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Manuel Ebner was a Partner at the strategy consulting firms Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey in Switzerland. He has also led several companies as CEO, among which Artificial Life Schweiz, Obtree Technologies, BZ Bank, and Merrill Lynch Capital Markets.
Mr. Ebner is a member of the Zurich Committee of the Human Rights Watch and was a Chairman of the Gold Zurich Chapter of the YPO. Manuel is a co-founder and a strategic advisor of Swiss Rockets AG.
Emir Iljazovic, Chief Business Officer, is an entrepreneurially oriented business professional who obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Babson College, Massachusetts, where he double majored in Entrepreneurship and Global Business Management. Emir developed his professional career in the USA, Ireland, China, UAE, Indonesia, and now Switzerland. He started his career in the Project Management Office of EMC in Boston and Cork, Ireland.
From there, he moved to Beijing to study Mandarin, where he began working for a privately-owned investment company as the Business Development Manager, identifying, researching, and negotiating investment opportunities across a wide variety of industries including Telecommunications, Oil and Gas, Mining, Food, and Pharmaceuticals. Before joining Swiss Rockets, Emir founded and managed a boutique consulting company focused on helping European and American SMEs to establish new business ventures across Asia. Emir is multilingual: besides Mandarin, he speaks several European languages.
Prof. Dr. Stéphane Depil, Chief Medical Officer, is an M.D., oncologist, and hematologist at the Léon Bérard Cancer Centre and group leader at the Cancer Research Center of Lyon, as well as adjunct Professor at University Claude Bernard Lyon in France. He was also appointed Visiting Professor at King’s College London. Stéphane received his M.D. from the University of Lille Medical School.
He obtained a PhD in immunology at the Institute of Biology of Lille and has over 15 years of experience in oncology drug development. He was Senior Vice President of Research & Development and Chief Medical Officer at Cellectis. Before joining the Léon Bérard Cancer Centre and the Cancer Research Centre of Lyon, he served as Chief Executive Officer at Netris Pharma, where he was responsible for the management of an oncology startup and preclinical development of a first-in-class monoclonal antibody, currently in phase 2. Before Netris, he worked at the Servier Research Institute for eight years in a variety of roles, including Director of Oncology Research and Development.
Stéphane is the author of more than 100 articles and abstracts, and co-inventor of 10 patents. He holds several teaching positions.
Dr. Andreas Voss, Chief Operating Officer, is an M.D. and a strategic thinker with in-depth expertise in all phases of oncology drug development and commercialization. Before joining Swiss Rockets, Andreas was the General Manager of Caris Life Sciences International; a biotechnology company focused on providing personalized medicine for oncology patients through its market-leading tumor profiling service.
Before joining Caris in 2010, he was responsible for the global clinical development of Avastin®, and a member of the Corporate Drug Safety Board at F. Hoffmann-La Roche. Before joining Roche in 2006, Andreas was the Medical Director for the Lung Cancer Disease Area at AstraZeneca, and from 2000 to 2003, he was the Medical Director for Anti-infectives and Oncology at Bayer GmbH.
From 1996 to 2000, Andreas was Head of Medical Research Oncology at Asta Medica AG. Andreas received his M.D. from the University of Hamburg Medical School and was a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Cellular Immunology at the University of California in San Diego. He is a certified physician in internal medicine and oncology and joined the board of directors of Celsion Corporation (CLSN) in 2015.
André Debrunner, Board Member, obtained his Economics degree at the University of Basel and has held various positions with UBS, PAX, and the Northern Trust Switzerland AG. He has expertise in the fields of banking, marketing, and fund management.
He is a member of the Northern Trust Switzerland AG management team, which oversees fund reporting for assets totaling over 400 Billion Swiss Francs.
Prof. Dr. Michael N. Hall, Board Member, is an American and Swiss molecular biologist and Professor at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel. He earned a PhD in Molecular Genetics from Harvard University in 1981 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institut Pasteur in Paris and the University of California, San Francisco. He was appointed Assistant Professor at the Biozentrum of the University Basel in 1987 and became a full Professor in 1992.
From 1995 to 1998 and from 2002 to 2009, he was Head of the Division of Biochemistry, and from 2002 to 2009, Deputy Director of the Biozentrum at the University of Basel. Michael is a pioneer in the fields of signaling and cell growth control. In 1991, he discovered TOR (Target of Rapamycin), a protein kinase that regulates cell growth, cell size, and cell division. TOR plays a crucial role in aging, cancer, and different metabolic diseases.
Michael has received numerous prestigious scientific awards, including Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 2017.
Veselin Jevrosimovic, Chairman of the Board, is a serial entrepreneur and businessman. He is the Founder and Chairman of Comtrade, headquartered in Belgrade. He founded Comtrade in 1991 and developed it to become one of the largest IT organizations in Southeast Europe. Comtrade started as a distributor of IT equipment and grown into a software engineering and development powerhouse in the early 2000s.
Today, Comtrade comprises 27 companies in 18 countries, spanning 17 time zones, and it counts companies such as HP, IBM, Yahoo, Citrix, Ryanair, and Viber as its clients. Veselin is a member of the World Economic Forum and is the recipient of various prestigious awards, such as the Top Manager of Southeastern Europe Award, the Most Innovative Investor in Southeastern Europe Award, and the IT Industry Legend Award in Monte Carlo.
Veselin, a former member of the National Serbian athletics team, has been the President of the Athletics Association of Serbia since 2009. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Management from the University of Florida, and an IT Engineering degree from the Information Technology School in Belgrade. Veselin is an active philanthropist, mainly known for his open education initiatives. As one of the founders of the Serbian IT School and the IT High school, he strives to improve access to, and the quality of education for youth in Serbia.
Dr. Thomas Sander, Scientific Advisor and Co-Founder, is an expert in cheminformatics and the Head of Scientific Computing at Idorsia Pharmaceuticals Ltd in Allschwil, Switzerland. After finishing his PhD thesis in organic chemistry, Thomas joined a team at Roche in Basel in 1993 to develop software for drug discovery.
Five years later, Thomas left Roche to join an early-stage startup called “Actelion,” where he built the drug discovery informatics environment from the ground up. When Johnson & Johnson acquired Actelion in 2017, its drug discovery department, along with some clinical development and service staff were split-off as a new company, Idorsia Pharmaceuticals Ltd. The Scientific Computing team, led by Thomas, develops algorithms and software to exploit the wealth of internal and external data related to drug discovery. He is the author of DataWarrior, one of the most widely used open-source cheminformatics applications. He has published over 40 scientific papers, posters, and presentations. Thomas completed his PhD in organic chemistry at Philipps University in Marburg, Germany, and his PostDoc in cheminformatics at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Dr. Natasa Cmiljanovic, Chief Scientific Officer and Founder, is a medicinal chemist and clinical scientist with more than ten years of experience in oncology drug development. She is the co-author of various scientific articles and abstracts and inventor of numerous patents. In 2007, during her PhD thesis in the Faculty of Chemistry, at the University of Basel, Switzerland, Natasa co-discovered the best-in-class dual PI3K/mTOR drug BIMIRALISIB (PQR309) together with her brother Vladimir and successfully led its early clinical development in Europe and the USA.
Natasa was the first to synthesize BIMIRALISIB, a triazine derivative, which is a highly selective, brain penetrant, and orally bioavailable. Natasa was also responsible for the early clinical development of BIMIRALISIB in solid tumors.
In 2018, Natasa co-founded Swiss Rockets AG, intending to create and grow a leading innovation hub for the support of biotech startup companies.
Sergey Shneyerson is a founding partner of Basil Street Advisory, a strategy, private equity, and M&A advisory business. Previously, Sergey was Partner with Exigen Capital, USA, where he led the firm’s investment activities. Sergey held several senior management positions with global technology companies. At Microsoft, he led the development of cloud strategy and offerings for Microsoft Services, the largest division within the company, with over 20,000 employees worldwide.
Earlier in his career, Sergey co-founded a pioneering consumer Internet business and led its acquisition by Amazon.com. Sergey also worked for the Boston Consulting Group in Chicago, advising senior management at companies in the software, financial services, and private equity industries.