By Rob Wright, Chief Editor, Life Science Leader
Follow Me On Twitter @RfwrightLSL
For this year’s BIO International Conference, executive-in-residence with AM Pappas & Associates, Peter Young, submitted a session proposal back in October of 2014. And similar to many aspiring 2015 BIO change agents, he hoped to create a session that was a valuable use of your time. His Inventing Your Own Hub: Evolving Institutional Models for Translational Medicine (June 16, 3:30 PM – 4:45 PM, Room 105AB) session includes some key industry trends biopharmaceutical executives should be paying a close attention to. Here is a bit of a prequel of Young’s session at BIO 2015. Hope to see you there.
Life Science Leader: What trends should biopharma execs be paying greater attention to and why?
Peter Young: “My answer is related to the panel I’m organizing at BIO on translational medicine. It’s related to how all of the parties interested in the development of a new, innovative medical product plug into the current explosion in the biological sciences. It’s the culmination of a lot of insights over a generation of new science. It’s almost an exponential, Moore’s-Law kind of progression on the scientific side, and yet you have a concentration around the major hubs of most of the money, most of the company, as well as a lot of science. This is a phenomenon that is too broad and diverse for any company or individual investor to feel confident that they can capture entirely. The competitive demand for quality opportunities inevitably exceeds the supply, so there is motivation to look beyond just the area ‘illuminated by the streetlight.’ Framed against a setting where NIH grants have declined over the last decade, universities are under a lot of pressure to try and improve the flow of translational opportunities that have the potential to become products. But these are early-stage opportunities, so they’re typically too early for companies to take a look. They’re early stage, and therefore typically too early for venture firms to invest in conventionally. I think this creates very significant trend where you get collaborative interest between industry, investors, and academic research institutions/foundations focused on different diseases, to try and find ways you can move some of this early-stage interest in science forward without spending a boatload of money. The expertise to do this properly is pretty expensive if you’re paying for dedicated full-time expertise. Are there ways you can structure collaborative networks that can leverage one another, pool some capital, and actually increase the flow of translational output that generates a new generation of early-product candidates and new spinoff companies that are venture ready? Sure, it’s a feeder mechanism for the downstream activity.
So, one of the significant trends I’m interested in is how, with capital and industry being concentrated around the major biotech hubs, coalitions can be formed that avoid all the science and opportunities from being similarly confined geographically. I think a forward-thinking venture firm can project itself into this space by building some really important relationships and creating some differential advantage in terms of the flow of downstream investment opportunities. The big companies, over the last five years or so, have all adopted aspects of open and outward-looking innovation, as well as new sorts of collaborative relationships. I think they sense the same kind of pressure and the same kind of opportunity, taking a somewhat more unconventional approach. The BIO conference creates a framework and an environment to get some of these different interested parties and themes together in one place.