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An Incentive to Partner for Children: Dr. David Williams Emphasizes the Value of Industry-Academic Collaboration around Children’s Health in 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference Keynote

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dr. David Williams kicked off the ASAP BioPharma Conference, Sept. 13-15, 2017, at the Royal Sonesta Boston in Cambridge, Mass., with a forthright keynote making the case for why industry should pay attention to the early research and clinical trial capabilities of leading children’s hospitals—which, he argues, can find common ground with the for-profit objectives of biopharma, biotech, and information technology companies seeking new opportunities in healthcare. Williams is Boston Children’s Hospital’s chief research and scientific officer and senior vice president for research, as well as president of the Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.

 

Williams is a versatile fellow—he still insists on being a practicing physician, despite also being a researcher, senior administrator, international collaborator, entrepreneur, scientific journal editor, pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical, and more—and he says he embraces working in all those roles because they all advance the fight against childhood diseases, improve the quality of life for children, and help once-ill children become the healthy adults everyone hopes they grow up to be.

 

Yet, aside from the “right reasons” everyone agrees upon, it’s not an easy economic case to argue for biopharma to focus on children—especially rare pediatric diseases. Williams was blunt in his keynote. “Seventy percent of drugs we use in children have never been studied and are not FDA-approved for use in children.” Why? “There’s no incentive for drug companies to seek [pediatric] label use.”

 

But his keynote arguments—reflecting his newly established role as chief medical officer charged with magnifying the science and scientific partnerships at Boston Children’s Hospital—seem entirely undeterred by this tough reality.

 

“Many people are surprised at how many drugs have evolved out of Boston Children’s,” he told a packed room of life sciences partnering executives, noting that Boston Children’s ranks fifth among all hospitals in the US in number of licenses and/or options executed (48). (The leader, Mayo, has 96.) Statins got their start at BCH, for example, thanks research efforts prompted by a child’s unfortunate heart attack. But Dr. Williams is not just talking about successful licensing partnerships with pharma leaders—BCH is also a force to reckon with in startups.

“At times, it’s better not to take a license agreement with the standard royalty fee, but rather use discoveries as platform for startup companies. Moderna is a huge company now. I’m involved with Orchard Therapeutics. Alerion is a platform company formed in Germany.” He noted that three BCH spinouts made FierceBiotech’s Fierce 15—Moderna in 2013, Intellia Therapeutics in 2015, and Orchard in 2016.

 

The foundation of these achievements—and a major contributor to BCH’s success as America’s top-ranked children’s hospital—are the remarkable research credentials of the institution where Dr. Williams works, among them:

  • 600,000-plus visits a year
  • 40 clinical departments and 225 specialized clinical programs
  • 800 faculty members and 2,000 fellows
  •  The largest pediatric research program in world based on extramural research funding—more than $330 million in funding for numerous areas of research.

And more than one Nobel prize winner.

 

So why did Dr. Williams take the time to share BCH’s story with ASAP? Because BCH is serious about partnering—not just because the hospital has dedicated alliance managers, but more fundamentally, it recognizes collaboration as key to its success, past, present, and future more than ever. Williams described the organization’s vision going forward:

 

“Champion discovery around pediatric illnesses, deploy genomics into everyday applications, translate our wealth of research into more effective and precisely targeted therapies, and build more robust collaborations with biopharma,” he said. “We’re really ‘putting the gas pedal down’ on advanced experimental therapeutics. The basis for everything we do is discovery science.”

 

Again, why should biopharma companies and society more broadly care?

“In addition for doing it for the ‘right reasons,’ there are lots of economic and societal reasons for doing this work,” he says. “We have the rare cohorts of patients and experts with deep experience in rare diseases.”

 

At the beginning and at the end of the day, though, success for Dr. Williams and BCH means lives saved or extended. One oft-cited triumph is common childhood leukemia, once a near-certain killer, now defeated 90 percent of the time. These kids survive to become adults who lead profoundly better lives—and make a powerful impact on society as a result. “If we can prevent childhood progression [of many diseases] it will have enormous implications later on in adult life.”

Tags:  2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference  biopharma  Boston Children’s Hospital  collaboration  discovery  Dr. David Williams  entrepreneur  genomics  international collaborator  therapeutics 

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External Collaboration for Innovation: Bayer’s Key Leadership Role in Alliance Management

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, September 13, 2017

External collaboration for innovation has become a red-hot topic in the pharmaceutical industryand a critical practice for success. It was also the central topic during the leadership forum at the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference, “Accelerating Life Science Collaborations: Better Partnering, Better Outcomes,” Sept. 13-15 at the Royal Sonesta Boston, Cambridge, Mass. Chandra Ramanathan, Ph.D, vice president & head of the East Coast Innovation Center at Bayer, kicked off the discussion with an overview of Bayer’s approach.  

Call it “East meets West.” Ramanathan’s discussion of building innovative product portfolios through external crowd sourcing and other collaboration approaches occurred on the heels of a dynamic leadership spotlight talk last spring at the ASAP Global Alliance Summit in San Diego, California, “Accelerating Innovation: Partnering Early and Often in the New Era of Cooperation,” led by Chris Haskellhead of the West Coast Innovation Center at Bayer, tucked away in San Francisco’s Mission Bay—who is responsible for Bayer’s CoLaboratory. Following is a recap of ASAP Media’s conversation with Haskell and coverage of his conference session in the spring.

Bayer’s West Coast CoLaborator space is a subdivision of the German healthcare company, which serves as an incubator for fledgling startups working on promising biotech projects. Haskell explained the impetus for Bayer’s focus on external collaboration: Pharma was taking a hard look at its business models, the challenges with the pace of innovation, and how to adapt to and work with the outside world.  “The pharma industry is a failure business. We have to put lots of drugs out to get one that gets to market,” Haskell notes. “We’re spending $2.6 billion per drug to get to marketthat’s an imbalance you sometimes can’t make up with a blockbuster,” he added.

Bayer wanted to harness the advantages of the life sciences ecosystem in Mission Bay, San Francisco, through local collaborations in early-stage research. So in 2012, it opened the CoLaborator, an incubator lab space located at Bayer’s US Innovation Center, which houses the US Science Huba scientific team actively identifying partnerships with academic and biotech researchers. The CoLaborator includes an open lab layout that is designed for a quick start of research activities. The 6,000 square foot lab fosters collaboration among companies who are emerging innovative life science firms. Bayer often lends support through financing some of the project and/or offering access to the expertise of their staff.

“Pharma companies haven’t done great with incubators—it’s hard to innovate in a short length of time. … But now there are 100 startups within 10 minute walk of my office that weren’t there 10 years ago—that’s thanks to incubators,” he said. “The CoLaborator structure isn’t so much experimentation. If it works, everybody wins. If doesn’t, you can’t sell it anywhere else.”

Their partners are selected because their innovations have the potential to be aligned with Bayer internal projects.  But it’s not a requirement that the work of these life science companies matches Bayer’s needs. The CoLaborator tenants are highly independent. The model relies on the flexibility of “strategic leasing,” allowing Bayer to work with these emerging companies that may not be immediate partners. At the same time, there is potential to build further partnership agreements that would share risks and rewards for both partners. Bayer looks for technologies or therapeutics that could have a major impact on its ability to improve the research process. “We consider the future growth and potential of these companies to see how our needs and the product will link together. Within the CoLaborator, the standard lease is two years, but we do not have a fixed timeline," he added.

Early innovators—it’s different than later-stage licensing. Developing trust and the tools you use are different, he then explained. “One thing we did to improve trust was to put people where the partners are—this is the structure of our global innovation and alliances group. We created innovation centers in five different regions to complement the core development in Germany,” he added.

“We hear a lot about trust—the pharma company is suffering a bit of a trust crisis” and politicians and others are certainly beating the drum against big pharma, he noted.  “You really have to work on this well before the deal comes into play and ask, ‘What does an innovator want, and what can you do to help them build trust’” to achieve that goal? He then provided several key suggestions to establish this foundation:

  • When working with smaller partners, be clear what you can’t do, and why you need them.
  • Acknowledge the speed differential when you are moving at different speeds.
  • Create a clear joint definition of success, which is often an iterative process, and then de-risk the process.
  • Have a local interpreter when cultures and processes merge.
  • Run joint test projectswhen they crash and burn, view it not as failure but a   learning opportunity.

“One of the challenges alliance managers have in early innovation partnering is the belief that it’s “not in my job description,” he concluded. “Trust yourself, and keep sticking with it because you will have wins in the end. Know who to go to, de-risk, and build a story. Finally, simple contracts and dialogue risk info leaks. That could happen. This is where trust comes in. … Stay in touch, create support letters for grants, make your network their network. This is not 2007. Get over it. They will come to you first if you’ve built that trust. What has Bayer created? Successive leadership is driving this.”

Stay tuned for more coverage of this topic from the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference.

Tags:  Bayer  Chandra Ramanathan  Chris Haskell  CoLaboratory  Innovation  Leadership  network  pharma  startups  strategic leasing 

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Dr. David Williams to Keynote 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference Focused on Accelerating and Fine-Tuning Collaboration in Life Sciences and Healthcare

Posted By John W. DeWitt and Cynthia Hansen, Wednesday, September 13, 2017

As see in PR Newswire... 

The Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals (ASAP), the world’s leading professional association dedicated to the practice of alliance management, partnering, and collaboration, announced the theme and programming for the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference Sept. 13-15, “Accelerating Life Science Collaborations: Better Partnering, Better Outcomes,” to be held at the Royal Sonesta Boston, Cambridge, Mass. This year’s conference theme delves into maximizing the value of partnering in life sciences.

“Partnering has been essential to long-term asset development in the life sciences for decades. This has never been more apparent than it is today, especially across the expanded partnering network of the healthcare ecosystem,” commented ASAP President and CEO Michael Leonetti, CSAP. “Patient-centric healthcare, personalized medicine, and new technologies teamed together in the healthcare system are creating new ways to leverage important innovations, which lead to positive outcomes for patients. This year, the ASAP BioPharma Conference will bring together the world’s leading practitioners and experts on partnering in the life sciences to share their perspectives on innovating in this highly complex ecosystem.”

Wednesday morning, Sept. 13, begins with a series of professional development workshops focused on enhancing participants’ alliance management capabilities. . The full conference program kicks off later in the afternoon with a keynote address by Dr. David Williams will take place at 5 p.m. Dr. Williams is chief scientific officer and senior vice president for research, Boston Children's Hospital, and president of the Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. His research laboratory has been the recipient of continuous funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for 31 years, since 1986.

“Williams is an exceptional leader who has fostered a collaborative portfolio of successful partnerships at Boston Children's, making it one of the best children's hospital systems in the U.S. today. He has extensive clinical and research experience having investigated, co-investigated, or sponsored extensive clinical trials in the area of gene therapy for blood, immunodeficiency, and neurological genetic diseases,” said Leonetti. “Looking at what BCH has accomplished through its partnership efforts, it is clear Dr. Williams understands and has achieved extensive accomplishments through business and scientific collaboration in healthcare. We are privileged to have him as a keynote speaker—and his talk should be a great way to kick off a great conference program.”

Click here to read the full press release.

Tags:  2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference  Boston Children's Hospital  Collaboration  Dr. David Williams  Healthcare  Life Sciences 

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2017 Summer SAM Tackles the Art of Conflict Resolution; Synopses of Several ASAP activities; an Interview with the College of American Pathologist’s Hallie Brewer

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Q3 2017 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine highlights a stubborn partnering problem—conflict.  “The Art of Sparring and Crossing Swords” provides sage advice on how to best negotiate this sticky challenge and then asks readers: “Can conflict be beneficial to alliance managers?” With the increasing complexity of multi-industry partnering, the potential for conflict is on the rise—internally and externally. Each additional partner added into a complex multi-partner alliance adds additional opinions, customs, conventions, and personalities, the article points out. Practical advice and concrete studies are then provided for strategic, results-driven action. 

An accompanying article, “No Pressure, No Diamonds; No Sand, No Pearl,” provides data from Eli Lilly & Company’s 14-year-long “Voice of the Alliance Survey,” on the health of its alliances as well as the technical and commercial success of their products.  The survey concludes that the right kind of conflict leads to better alliances and products. Another companion article titled  “What Can History Teach Us About Building Great Alliances To Resolve Conflict?” draws from the Sept. 13-15, 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference session Alliance Management Learnings from Great Leaders,” which looks at alliances among the Allied forces used to defeat the Axis powers. Every once in awhile, a great alliance forms and serves as a historical guidepost, which can provide insights for alliances in general. 

What’s up at ASAP? Michael Leonetti, CEO and president, ponders about fresh and vintage ideas and considers the evolving partnering efforts of ASAP in “New Bottle—Old or New Wine,” which includes a progress report on the ISO-44001 international collaboration standard. There’s an interview with ASAP BioPharma Conference keynote speaker, Dr. David Williams, of Boston Children’s Hospital, explaining his breakthrough approach aligning academic and company researchers around rare diseases and therapeutic trials. This issue also includes a synopsis of the June ASAP Tech Conference, “Collaborate at the Speed of Digital Transformation,” and interviews with two managers at NVIDIA, the host sponsor of the conference. The article also provides a snapshot of insights from ASAP members and attendees.

Hallie Brewer, CA-AM, director of operations and strategic alliances at the College of American Pathologists, is center stage in this issue’s Member Spotlight “Partnering is Central to the College of American Pathologists—for Good Reason.” The article provides an overview of the recent partnering goals and accomplishments of the 70-year-old organization.  “Over the last several years, the CAP leadership has increased the emphasis on alliance management as an important strategic approach and competency for its teams,” explains Brewer.

Eli Lilly and Company’s editorial supplement provides some exercises for “Building Reputation,” and why it matters. The Close probes the question of whether we are capable of keeping pace with the coming changes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It draws from a book review in this issue of Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future. The tome by MIT’s Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson, New York Times bestselling authors of The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, raises big questions about the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where artificial intelligence or AI (the “machine”) is changing the way we provide services (the “platform”) to create some new economic frameworks. Customers (the “crowd”) are in charge, and the combination of the three is making partnering even more essential for businesses to succeed. The authors also provide fascinating reading on the context and history on how we arrived at this point. Not surprising if this books also makes it to the New York Times bestseller list.

All in all, the Q3 2017 Strategic Alliance Magazine should provide you with lots of ideas and fodder to help you, your partnerships, and your company prosper in a time of accelerating challenge and change. 

Tags:  and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies  Andrew McAfee  ASAP Tech Partner Forum  Boston Children’s  College of American Pathologist  Conflict Resolution  Dr. David Williams  Erik Brynjolfsson  Fourth Industrial Revolution  Hallie Brewer  New York Times  NVIDIA  Progress  The Second Machine Age: Work 

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Update Your Communications File Cabinet with Good Dialogue and Trustworthy Practices

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Friday, August 18, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Is it possible to not communicate? That was a question Minna J. Holopainen of InFlux Communications, LLC, posed to a rapt audience at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Partnering Enterprise” held in San Diego, California, last March. “You are communicating even if someone calls, and you decide to not pick up the phone. We are all at the same time engaging in communication practices. We swim in streams of communication practices all drawn from a pool of meanings developed over a lifetime,” she explained in her practical session “Cross-Cultural Communication Skills for Building Collaboration in Alliance Partnerships.”

“Think back as far as you can remember. Think of the first chair you sat on,” she coached the audience. “Think of all chairs you’ve seen or heard about? Can your chair file in you mind be like anyone else’s? They can never be exactly the same,” she said. “Now think of a more abstract example: A good friend. For some, a friend is someone who laughs at you but doesn’t bother you. To someone else, a good friend checks in every day.”

Every day we engage in a common practice that updates our files. We reconstruct each time we communicate. According to this model, communication is not merely a transmission of ideas. It is meaning and activity, explained the San Jose State University lecturer.

Holopainen then talked about the importance of maintaining our “trust” file, which is so essential in alliance partnershipsor any partnership, for that matter.  The “trust” file can be added to in positive or negative ways: “We create something. There is an outcome. What happens if things go bad? Whose fault is it? It’s shared. We are all in it together,” she added. “Learning Outcome No. 1: Trust is mainly communication.”

Relationships move into a sphere of harm when you call someone stupid, she emphasized. “You want to move to the sphere of value. How do you move from one sphere to another? In communication, you discover your differences and get challenged.”

Dialogue is also important. Speak in a way that helps others listen. Listen in a way so that others will want to speak, she said. Pay attention. Dialogue has three key components:

  1. Hold your ground. Say what you want.
  2. Be open to the other, not in the way that you can trick someone later, but be open to be changed by the action.
  3. Stay in the tension between 1. and 2.:  Keep a balance between autonomy and collaboration.

She then applied her communication theories to cross-cultural skills. You can remake good cultural communication skills by practicing good communication behaviors. You need to manage both the relationship and the task, she said. 

“Instead of teaching ‘This is how to communicate with this one specific culture,’ it’s more difficult than that. Instead of teaching specific skills for Japanese, we need to teach skills to deal with diversity. Be open to your ear and ask: ‘Am I making this person uncomfortable?’”

Communication is an art. You make it work for you in the way it fits in your relationships, she noted. But be sensitive about when it’s appropriate. Storytelling is a great technique: It carries the listener into the story world … and into a framework that starts making sense, she explained. When you apply it to the situation, you understand it better and can start feeling empathy more easily. “There are also organizational stories. It is a whole system of values packaged,” she concluded. In the art of storytelling, “you can be strategic about how to make good stories that are inclusive.” 

Tags:  Alliance Partnerships  Communication  cross-cultural  culture  InFlux Communications  Minna J. Holopainen  storytelling 

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