We are all aware of the tremendous challenges the life science industry is facing. This industry is at a critical juncture and we need to do things differently if we want to survive. I’m passionate about the life sciences and I see many opportunities. I’m all about innovation and doing things differently because we have the insights to be confident these changes will make a difference. I started this blog to share my ideas and hear your thoughts on them. I suspect that at times we won’t agree, and I want to know your thoughts. I love to share ideas and learn from others, so please add your comments to the posts. When I jump into a topic I like to go deep and really understand it (it’s the analytical side of me), so my first few blog posts are going to focus on strategic partnerships. I feel very passionate about this right now.
In case you don’t know me, I’m Dave Fishman, President of Snowfish. I’ve worked in senior-level positions for business consulting and pharmaceutical companies for more than 20 years. I have run corporate partnerships, marketing, strategy, product development, channel development, and communications programs from the manager level all the way up to senior vice president.
At Snowfish, our mission is to “empower the life sciences with actionable insight”. We are driven to find new and innovative ways to quickly bring products to market and enhance their success. We are also driven by data and action. We seek to understand the problems and develop actionable plans to overcome them.
I will put it on the line – the industry has to come up with a new paradigm to building their product pipelines. The same-old-approaches of internal development and company or product acquisitions are not yielding the amount of innovation this industry requires. We all know the challenges of developing new products internally. Acquisitions are costly and difficult to implement.
At Snowfish we have developed a new approach for our clients that focuses on unconventional partners for product development that include clinical, academic, and government institutions. Research institutions are often overlooked because it is not self-evident how to best work with them and the perception is that are hard to work with. The challenges are different, but they can easily be overcome.
The current economic environment has meant budget cuts for research institutions, which are driving them to seek additional sources of revenue to maintain their research programs. Partnerships with life science companies are a primary source of this additional funding. These research institutions have the clinical and scientific expertise (and it goes deep) to identify new molecules and mechanisms for treating conditions. Life science companies bring a proven track-record in navigating the regulatory approval process for new treatments, as well as the expertise and resources to successfully commercialize a new treatment. These synergies are exciting and it’s obvious to look at joining them.
Forging any partnership can be difficult. Here are my top three tips for ensuring these partnerships are successful:
1) Take the time to understand the primary interests of each partner. Each institution will have unique interests and goals for partnering. Partnerships are successful when both entities share mutual interests.
2) Approach the partnership with the mindset that it is a long-term meaningful collaboration. Institutions want to be considered a partner and want to share in the development of the molecule or treatment. They do not want to be considered or viewed as a “contract research partner”.
3) Understand how an institution likes to conduct their technology transfer business. Many institutions will have Technology Transfer offices with an established process in place. Reach out to the Technology Transfer office, meet their team and understand their process.
Partnerships between life science companies and research institutions are significant opportunities for both entities to commercialize new molecules and treatments. For these partnerships to be successful mutual interests, synergies, and complementary areas of expertise must be understood. I’ll share the essential elements for identifying potential strategic partnerships in my blog posting, so watch for it.
Now, I want to hear from you…have you explored partnerships with research institutions as an option for expediting your new product development efforts? If not, why not? What are your particular concerns that are keeping you from exploring this area? If you have tried to partner with research institutions please tell us about your experiences. Are there best practices you can share?
If you’re interested in more information on unconventional partnerships for product development, we recently published a White Paper titled “Identifying Strategic Partners for Product Development”. Please click here to download it.