Working with Early-Stage Innovations – Insights From Big Pharma Panelists

1 Feb

By Claire Jeong, Research Analyst, LSN


In last week’s newsletter, you may have read about LSN’s review of 2017 licensing deals and how licensing deals are happening even earlier. Despite the high risk, pharmaceutical companies all across the globe are aggressively seeking partnership opportunities in hopes of identifying breakthrough therapies.

During RESI San Francisco – our first conference of the year – we invited 5 panelists from the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies to share their insights on early-stage partnerships. How do they assess value? How can companies differentiate themselves, especially those who are in an overcrowded space?

Moderated by Chris Haskell, VP, Head of West Coast Innovation Center, Bayer HealthCare, the Big Pharma panelists were:

Some takeaway points from the panel discussion:

Understand the value that you bring with your technology. Demonstrating strong scientific expertise is key. Knowing how your technology is differentiable and providing a cogent explanation on why your technology might work seem like obvious pointers, but this is particularly important for companies who are in overcrowded indications. Most likely, the potential pharma partners who you will be in conversation with are already familiar with what has succeeded and failed.

Know why you want to work with a certain group and think of this as a long-term relationship. Every pharmaceutical company is different, so it is essential to do research on your potential partners and fully understand how they could benefit your company. When they provide suggestions and feedback on how to improve, make sure that these are fully understood and addressed at the next meeting. After all, large pharmaceuticals aren’t there just to provide you with an excess of capital. They want to work with likeable management teams with whom they can develop a cooperative relationship over many years.

It is better to keep things simple in an introductory discussion. You will not need to provide every single piece of information that is attributed to your company’s work. Eventually, detailed materials (i.e. patents, detailed data on a given asset, etc.) will be reviewed as needed, but the initial conversation should be focused on understanding what your company is doing and what differentiates your technology.

Don’t be afraid to follow up, but understand that the process takes a while. Most pharmaceutical companies are organized into groups based on therapeutic area and expertise. It can take a while for these groups to review the entire portfolio and send promising opportunities up the corporate ladder. In an initial conversation, it is good to ask when you will hear back so that you can act accordingly based on those expectations. Eventually, large pharmaceuticals will make sure you receive a response from them, one way or the other.

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