TheClubDeal: Newsletter December 2020

December 2020. When crisis creates opportunities !
1/ Message from our CEO
2/ A brief history of the RNA Covid-19 vaccine by Louis de Thanhoffer de Völcsey, PhD
3/ Welcome to Jean-Louis Van Houwe
4/ Soros believes in Univercells
5/ Yust secures its competitive advantages
6/ 3D-Side heading towards internationalization
7/ TheClubDeal Fund II on the best paths

Message from our CEO

For almost nine months, I have frequently wondered how such a small virus has been able to change our lives, our global economy and in addition to stop all human activities? After these thoughts, the only words that come to mind are globalization and hyper-media coverage.
 
More deadly modern epidemics like the flu of 1957 and 1968 (more than a million deaths each, on a much less populated planet) did not cause the same paralysis of the world.
It should be noted that our world has changed dramatically since these last major epidemics. By touching, from the outset the epicenter of world trade “Wuhan”, international production unit for all multinationals in the world, this little Covid-19 poison (since it must be called by its name) has exported its misdeeds at high speed of consumption, which has become unreasonable in recent decades.
 
All companies, all populations have been gradually affected depending on their access to globalization and / or the protections put in place by competent or incompetent authorities.
 
The favelas of Brazil were thus as severely affected as the silicon valley, certainly not at the same time, but gradually the number of affected people increased. We must therefore recognize a quality in this virus: no distinction of area neither social class …
 
Journalists are having a blast, and more or less enlightened diviners and doctors disseminate their saving or lethal advice.
 
· Did our rulers overreact, did they kill our economies, did they save thousands of lives for the most extremists in confinement?
· Will confinements or confined ones be the cradle of the third wave? ,
· Social networks and the digitalization of society and communication, have they allowed us to continue working or have they amplified generalized fear?
 
These are questions that most of us ask ourselves regularly! And yet our only solution is to ignore our fears, to respect elementary security rules in a world that will never be the same again.
 
Einstein said “I am only interested in the future because I have decided to spend the rest of my life there” …
 
At TheClubDeal, like the Yust hosting concept that we support and which is probably the European record holder for Covid resilience, we advise our current and future participations for the best transition after Covid. Another example, Our participation in Univercells also directly benefits from the “Covid impact” thanks to its direct involvement in the prevention of diseases and epidemics.
 
Our current conclusion from the pandemic is this: business models need to be resilient. The creation of “goodwill” or intangible capital is therefore decorrelated from the pure and exclusive generation of profits. One of our selection criteria, pre-existing to the crisis, is to contribute to the competitiveness of the local ecosystem, such as the creation of local jobs. Restoring color to sectors other than the tertiary sector is therefore a necessary and responsible response to the crisis. We are still working on it and building our dialogues with entrepreneurs and co-investors on this essential theme.
 
Without knowing it, by insisting on governance processes and high proximity with our participations, we had anticipated that the world would change and give back value to local proximity. That is and remains an important selection criterion for our next investments : local competitiveness, global ambition.
 
With our new initiative, TheClubDeal Fund II, we aim at fostering local ambition, for global competitiveness.
TheClubDeal Fund II stands as an anchorage and co-investment fund.
Our selection and governance facilitation processes ensure a most optimal set of alliances with growing and daring entrepreneurs.
 
Welcoming Jean-Louis Van Houwe, (see below) as a last addition in our eco-system is another proof of our willingness of creating value by allying with experts, in our selection process where Jean-Louis will be our tech sectorial referent, and in co-investment where we ally with other sector specialized co-investors.

Jean-Marc Legrand
Founder & Managing Director


A brief history of the RNA Covid-19 vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna)

« Il y aura toujours des maladies émergentes », 
Charles Nicolle (1866-1936), Nobel Prize in Medicine 1928

As a reminder, a viral epidemic of unknown etiology emerged in central China in the city of Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, in December 2019. On January 9, 2020, the Chinese health authorities and the World Health Organization jointly announced the official discovery of a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 or Covid-19). This virus is responsible for a new infectious respiratory disease named Covid-19. The epidemic that was raging in Hubei province evolved rapidly into a pandemic, which per definition reached several continents.

The term « vaccine » was coined in 1881 by Louis Pasteur (1822-1895). Nine covid-19 vaccine candidates are currently in clinical Phase III and are based on different vaccine approaches. Pfizer / BioNTech GmbH and Moderna (USA) have just completed their Phase III clinical trial, and for the first time in the history of human vaccinology, they did not employ traditional techniques for the development of a preventive vaccine, which are based on either weakened or killed forms of the virus, or fragments of the virus, or one of its surface proteins. Pfizer / BioNTech GmbH and Moderna have chosen an innovative approach using fragments of the mRNA (messenger RNA) sequence of the covid-19 virus to develop their vaccine.

Messenger RNA (RiboNucleic Acid) was experimentally discovered in 1961 (François Jacob, Sidney Brenner and Matthew Meselson). Due to its sensitive and unstable nature, it has to be stored at very low temperature (-70°C for the Pfizer vaccine). mRNA plays an important role in cells as it transfers genetic information contained in DNA (DeoxyriboNucleic Acid, packaged in the nucleus of each cell into thread-like structures called chromosomes, which carry the heredity of each individual). The process of protein synthesis occurs in two steps. First, DNA is copied into mRNA in the nucleus (process called transcription). mRNA is then exported from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, which is the cellular compartment located between cell membrane and nucleus. In a second step, mRNA is translated into proteins in the cytoplasm (process called translation). The term “messenger” comes from the fact that the export of mRNA requires to pass through the nuclear pore.

RNA Covid-19 vaccine can be described by the inoculation of viral mRNA, the “virus maker”, using intramuscular injection in dendritic cells (also called antigen-presenting cells), which are present in high numbers under human skin. These cells are responsible for initiating all antigen-specific immune responses. This is the first time that an RNA vaccine is tested in human beings. What is actually injected is not the whole viral mRNA molecule, but only a fragment which will be translated in the cells into a SARS-CoV-2 protein called protein “S” (standing for spike). This viral antigen is present at the surface of the coronavirus and is heavily involved in viral entry into host cells. 

The recognition of this viral antigen, which is identified as a foreign object in the body, leads to the production of antibodies by B lymphocytes (white blood cell) causing a significant drop in viral load. Thus, the vaccine protein is not exogenously delivered from a small vial, like it is in the case of the preventative vaccine for Hepatitis B. The vaccine protein is directly produced in our body. Major advantage. 

The following question inevitably arises: why a vaccine against covid-19 can be so quickly developed, when we have been trying to develop a preventive HIV/AIDS vaccine for 40 years? In 99% of cases, AIDS can not be cured spontaneously whereas covid-19 can. Moreover, covid-19 virus is easy to neutralize, on the opposite of HIV which can be explained by its elevated spontaneous mutation frequency. Indeed, as far as HIV is concerned, antibodies produced have a very low efficiency.

To conclude, the development of an RNA vaccine against covid-19 from Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna is undoubtedly a technological achievement. Thanks to new advances in molecular biology, genomics, bioinformatics and artificial intelligence. Ideally, the RNA vaccine must protect both from Covid-19 infection and from transmission.

November 2020 appears to be crucial for the two companies since they both requested the «Emergency Use Authorisation» (EUA) to the U.S FDA and the European Medicinal Agency (EMA). Keeping in mind that we only have data over a 2 to 3 month monitoring period regarding safety and efficacy of the vaccine candidate. How long will the protection last for? Will it be for 6 months, a year? Today, no one knows. The vaccinovigilance (or phase 4) will tell us in the coming months, when dozens, or even hundreds, of millions of people around the globe will have been vaccinated.

Pfizer published phase 3 results in the prestigious scientific journal New England Journal of Medicine dated December 10, 2020. The first vaccines’ batches which left the Pfizer production facilities on December 13 will be administered in priority to 3 million people in the USA.

Louis de Thanhoffer de Völcsey, PhD


TheClubDeal is extremely honored to welcome Mr Jean-Louis Van Houwe as Member of the Board & Tech’s Reference Sectorial Advisor.

With more than 25 year’s experience, Jean-Louis Van Houwe is active in the fintech and ICT industry, still leading Monizze as CEO, Chairman of the Board of Fintech Belgium and My Innovation Centre, Brussels, and active in several boards and investor in start-ups around Fintech, HR tech and Education tech.

Jean-Louis has founded Monizze in 2011, successfully developed as the 100% electronic payment system for lunch gift and eco vouchers in Belgium: Groupe Up, the international leader in this space, “ Making every day better”, took over Monizze in 2015, recognizing its unique footprint and complementing the Group international development over 19 countries.

Jean-Louis is the founder & digital evangelist at izify, the bargain assistant for clever consumers and brands that embraces AI to deliver value and serendipity.

Jean-Louis started his career at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Management Consulting Services. He then joined Alcatel Telecom with various roles & responsibilities, ranging from Sales, Marketing, Strategy and General Management in B2B telecom solutions, based in Brussels, London and Paris.

Back to Brussels he joined Computer Science Corporation as Partner of the Telecom Management practice. His last « white collar » experience was at IBM Global Business Solutions responsible for the Telecom practice. 

He is married to Charlotte, who gave birth to their two daughters, Alix (1999) and Tess (2002).

Jean-Louis is Civil Engineer in electronics (ULB, Brussels), Msc in Information System Engineering (UMIST, Manchester, UK), Master in Economics (EML, Lyon, France), Exec Master in General Management (Solvay Business School, Brussels).

Jean-Louis is Civil Engineer in electronics (ULB, Brussels), Msc in Information System Engineering (UMIST, Manchester, UK), Master in Economics (EML, Lyon, France), Exec Master in General Management (Solvay Business School, Brussels).


After Bill & Melinda Gates foundation & KKR, Billionaire Georges Soros is now joining the happy few team of investors in Univercells. As precised by Hugues Bultot in the article from Le Soir,  TheClubDeal has played a key role in the three rounds of fundraising as well as having key responsibilities on governance with a board observer role in the mother company and Board member of Exothera (CDMO).

For more details about the article: click here


Our Yust investment included a hidden gem with its PMS (property management system), an essential tool for managing reservations, check-in and check-out, customer relations and loyalty, yield management, opening doors, connection with the restaurant and above all the ability to optimize the transformation of our accommodation between long stay and traditional hotel room; according to our comparative study, this system called Smart Assist has proven to be the best to make life easier for our “Yusters”.
After consulting the board and the board of directors, Yust acquired the company Smart Assist, which will ensure the sustainability of this system, to deploy it in future Yust and in our future Smart Living participations.


3D-Side has opened a US representation, as a joint venture, 3D-Shoulders. This major step towards a new market and a new application is a vibrant recognition for a fast developing software medical tec company. The Board has also been further reinforced with the arrival of a US entrepreneur expert in the field. Internationalisation by representation in the country, vs distribution only, is a major milestone for such a company. Congratulations to the management.


Although TheClubDeal Fund II has not been yet officially launched, we are pleased to announce that a few investment opportunities have been identified and studied to be incorporated into the fund. In addition to Univercells, an international company in Tech and another in Smart Living will be our first investments. These participations, already representing 5% of the total size of the fund, suggest a rapid deployment of the funds raised.


For all of us, 2020 was a trying year; At TheClubDeal we are resolutely optimistic  for 2021!
To start the year, we launch TheClubDeal Fund II of which you have already received or will soon receive the information leaflet.
We wish you all a great holiday season and look forward to seeing you in 2021!

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