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Gentle on My Mind: NCAA, NFL, GE, and Others Collaborate to Prevent Brain Injuries

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 3/28/2013

For U.S. college basketball fans, March Madness is in full swing—but the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is proving that there’s method amid the madness, and it’s listening to the head as well as the heart.

As part of its commitment to the health and safety of student-athletes, big-time college sports’ governing body has announced that it will participate in an unprecedented strategic alliance formed by the National Football League and General Electric to facilitate innovation and advance research into brain injuries.

The Head Health Initiative will be a four-year, $60 million collaboration funded by the NFL, GE, and Under Armour, and supported by the NCAA and the U.S. military. Its goal is to develop next-generation imaging technologies to improve diagnosis and management of concussions and uncover innovative approaches to protecting the brain.

The far-ranging initiative hopes not only to protect amateur and professional athletes but to develop technologies that can protect and treat military personnel and the general public as well. NCAA president Mark Emmert said the strategic alliance is an extension of the NCAA’s 107-year-old founding mission to protect the health and well-being of student-athletes.

“Now you have a moment where there are 460,000 college students playing NCAA sports across the United States,” Emmert said at the initiative’s March 11 announcement in New York. “They play in 23 different sports. They participate in 89 different championships. But the mission of the NCAA is still exactly the same: to make sure we provide for and are attentive to the health and well-being of those young men and those young women. To have this initiative going forward to provide the kind of research and innovation that we all need to keep track of and protect our young people from injuries while they participate in sport and beyond is a wonderful moment for us.”

The NCAA will support research funded by the partnership by providing scientists with opportunities to study concussions and their effects beyond football—the sport that has brought the injury’s detrimental effects to the forefront of health and safety discussions. It will also encourage its member institutions to participate in the initiative by having medical staff who work with student-athletes speak with students about volunteering for study.

Student-athlete participation will allow the initiative to expand beyond football to other sports, such as soccer, lacrosse, and ice hockey. Volunteers from the NCAA’s community of student-athletes will provide the diversity in concussion studies necessary to understand how the risks and effects might differ between women and men, and in different sports.

The NCAA has sought to play a greater role in recent years to protect athletes from concussions by funding research, adjusting playing rules, and providing concussion management guidelines. For example, a recent change to kickoff rules in football reduced the number of concussions on those plays last fall by 50 percent. The NCAA has also funded grants to research various aspects of the injuries in recent years, including one of the first large-scale, long-range examinations of concussions, currently being conducted by four NCAA-member universities.

The collaboration between the NFL, GE, the NCAA, and other partners aims to develop the technologies needed to more accurately diagnose brain injuries and develop protocols to more effectively treat them. Some of those existing technologies, such as Diffusor Tensor Imaging (DTI) coupled with functional brain imaging, broaden the view of the brain for researchers and could provide more powerful tools for diagnosis. The partnership aims to develop those technologies and make them more widely available to definitively diagnose brain injuries at earlier stages.

Representatives of each partner stressed that the Head Health Initiative’s focus is not exclusive to football, or even to sports. It aims to take a broader view of the issue and use what is learned on the competitive courts and fields to improve the health care available to the general public, where concussions are a risk in bicycle accidents, auto collisions, and household accidents just as they are on a football field.

“This is going to be felt more broadly in the health care system than just what we’re talking about today,” said GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt. “We are going to bring the best of the best to this effort to really study the diagnosis, track therapies, and do everything we can around the whole science of mild and traumatic brain injury.”

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ASAP Certifies 100th CSAP

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 3/19/2013

At the 2013 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, 14 alliance management veterans passed the exam for earning the Certified Strategic Alliance Professional (CSAP) credential, the most advanced level of certification.

This new crop of alliance management experts helped the community reach a milestone; we now have more than 100 CSAPs demonstrating a command of the full alliance life cycle from inception to termination/reevaluation on behalf of their respective organizations. Congratulations go out to the following seasoned warhorses:
  • Andy Eibling, Covance
  • Christoph Sarry, F. Hoffmann - La Roche
  • Nancy Breiman, IBM
  • Joan Meltzer, IBM
  • Subhojit Roye, Infosys
  • Janice Babia-Ramos, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson
  • Ron McRae, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson
  • Vinnie Rivera, Nationwide
  • Annlouise Goodermuth, Sanofi
  • Andrew Lockhart, SAS
  • Susan Hed, Schneider Electric
  • Parth Amin, Varian Medical Systems
  • Karen Robinson, Verizon
  • Mark Ballinger, Xerox

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Midwest, New England, Silicon Valley, RTP Usher in ASAP's Exciting Next Chapter

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 3/14/2013

At last week’s 2013 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards Recognition Dinner, we did more than honor the previous year’s best alliances and portfolios; we celebrated the most successful chapter initiatives—the events and programs that bring the state-of-the-art alliance management knowledge and high-quality networking opportunities closer to home for ASAP members. Awards were handed out in three categories to recognize four chapters for their efforts in delivering the ASAP value proposition regionally.

Category: Program Innovation

Winners: Midwest and Silicon Valley

Unfortunately, not everybody can make the annual Global Alliance Summit, so the Midwest chapter brought presenters and attendees from the 2012 edition of the event to Chicago to reprise four of the most well-received sessions at Caesars Palace. At the conclusion of this reenactment, some attendees told chapter leaders that they now had a case to fund attendance for this year’s Summit and beyond.

Through a series of face-to-face events, the Silicon Valley chapter’s “Game Changer” series addressed topics like partner marketing, collaborative partnering, and alliance ecosystems — the latter of which served in part as the basis for this year’s Global Alliance Summit opening plenary. The program's individual events gathered chapter members together to hear “partners” and “thought leaders” discuss technology-driven business model innovation. The chapter’s Game Changer series attracted 250 attendees across the three sessions, with more than 30 companies represented.

Category: Sharing Best Practices

Winner: New England

The New England Chapter not only developed a comprehensive plan to bring great content to existing and prospective members that aligned with ASAP Global, it also shared the details with the rest of ASAP’s regional chapters to assist them in designing their local activities to support the goals of the corporate office. The chapter’s leadership team spent several months developing the strategy, goals, objectives, and metrics to guide and measure this plan to support the growth and leadership of the chapter. They also initiated proactive outreach at the chapter level to prospective and existing members and began the creation of a universal value proposition.

Category: Excellence in Overall Chapter Operations

Winner: Research Triangle Park (RTP)

In efforts to expand its membership and reach new audiences, the RTP chapter ran a very successful event in 2012 focused on the dynamics of “triple helix” partnerships—alliances between private sector businesses, universities, and government organizations—that was ultimately turned into a well-received ASAP Netcast webinar. The event achieved its goal of helping to recruit new members and diversifying the chapter’s leadership team. RTP has made good on ASAP Global’s objective of having its chapters facilitate great networking at the regional level; it has increased face-to-face interactions through local events, and has varied its program content to serve chapter members with diverse industry backgrounds. Moreover, the RTP chapter has set a high bar in terms of the number of leaders and members who are CA-AM and CSAP certified.

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“And the Winner Is…” ASAP Unveils 2013 Alliance Excellence Award Winners in Orlando

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 3/12/2013

The 2013 ASAP Alliance Excellence Award winners were announced at the annual ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards Recognition Dinner at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, March 7, and collectively this year’s winners exemplify the alliance management community’s growing diversity. The honorees represent old and new ASAP members, big companies and small, organizations from multiple countries and continents, and operations that are truly global in scope.

Category: Alliance Program Excellence

Takeda Pharmaceuticals is the purveyor of this year’s top alliance practice. Its Global Alliance Management (GAM) team oversees 45 alliances that cover 49 drugs. Moreover, the company’s alliance operations have a global reach and scale, particularly after the integration of Nycomed, the Zurich-based pharmaceutical company it acquired in 2011.

GAM has been very active in selecting the right executives from the company’s senior leadership team for governance committees. The alliance practice provides extensive training to its team members, as well as employees outside of the alliance function that carry out critical alliance responsibilities. It also delivers skill development exercises throughout the life cycle of each alliance. Takeda’s online alliance management toolkit is available to all alliance management professionals and its content is bundled under three broad categories—Launch, Manage, and Transform. The company shares elements of this toolkit with its partners.

Takeda has recently received regulatory approval in the United States and subsequently launched the kidney anemia drug Omontys, and obtained EU approval for two products: 1) iron deficiency anemia drug Rienso and 2) Revestive, a treatment for short bowel syndrome. All of these drugs were products of Takeda collaborations.

Category: Individual Alliance Excellence

There are two winners in this award category. For best small or mid-sized alliance, Toronto-based exactEarth and the Norwegian company Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) were honored for their partnership, which has produced a groundbreaking technology and service that enables electronic tracking of all oceangoing ships beyond port areas anywhere around the world. The former is a start-up that has deployed several low-Earth orbit satellites, and the latter provides ground stations in the arctic regions to optimize those satellites.

Getting this technology up and running required a tremendous amount of technical and operational resources. In addition, communications frequencies are regulated by different government entities in each region of the globe. To further complicate this initiative, such an operation requires an extraordinary degree of real-time cooperation and trust—teams must work together 24/7 to detect, isolate, and resolve problems that may arise. Today, the system tracks more than 85,000 ships and processes 4 million messages each day. Revenue growth has doubled each of the past three years and the partnership’s joint customer base includes companies from five continents.

Two-time Alliance Excellence Award winner SAS and its storage partner Teradata were bestowed with the long-established alliance award in this category. The two companies formed their alliance in 2007 to come up with solutions that enable joint customers to quickly analyze and mine reams of data for actionable cutting-edge insights into their businesses. The alliance has enjoyed strong support at the CEO level, and the two companies have adeptly aligned themselves across all major functional areas, including project management, R&D, product management, marketing, services, and technical support.

A deep technical engagement embodied the two organizations’ willingness to put skin in the game; Teradata manufactured a storage appliance solely for use with SAS software (a first for the company), while SAS enabled Teradata to load its software on this appliance during the manufacturing process—likewise, an unprecedented move in its history. The alliance has handled more than 400 customer engagements and netted more than 250 joint customer wins, to date.

Category: Innovative Alliance Best Practice

Schneider Electric took home the trophy in this category by tackling a challenge that is pervasive in all of business today: incorporating social media into its alliance management organization’s affairs. Today, Schneider Electric’s alliance management team oversees a social media machine that has generated more than 25,000 individual page views for its blog posts, 72 “InLinks” on LinkedIn, and 105 retweets on Twitter for its successes. Moreover, it has improved communication and increased collaboration across some of its key partnerships.

The social media infrastructure has been especially useful and effective for promoting major alliance announcements, particularly at major trade shows. The company chronicled the action from these events, then published follow-up posts and tweets immediately after the trade shows as well as months afterward to mirror follow-on press release schedules and coincide with relevant articles that appeared in major publications. For the on-site event activities, Schneider Electric hired a professional video crew to liven up the event coverage.

Category: Alliances for Corporate Social Responsibility

Schneider Electric’s BIPBOP program had an ambitious goal: train 100,000 unemployed people in developing nations to be electricians by the year 2014. As this effort was initially solely funded by the Schneider Electric Foundation, the company realized it needed to rethink its model when it had managed to train only 10,000 new electricians by the end of 2011. Schneider Electric searched within its partner base and outside of it to find like-minded partners that shared its strategic objectives of sustainability, in terms of both energy efficiency and the development of the economies of emerging nations.

The BIPBOP alliance team drew up a list of 88 prospective partners for its ecosystem and made formal alliance agreement offers to 11 of them. Ultimately, the BIPBOP alliance welcomed four new members: 1) Paris-based Rexel, 2) Art of Living, 3) Ambuja Cement Foundation, and 4) Jubilant Bhartia. Rexel was brought in to create two training labs in China to develop 300 new electricians, while the other three organizations—all of which are based in India—will be charged with creating 17 training centers in the country that will ultimately add 5,000 electricians to the job marketplace. Schneider Electric says these partners will add 1 million euros in value to the BIPBOP initiative.

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Roche, PTC Examine the Small Biotech–Big Pharma Relationship at 2013 Global Summit

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 3/11/2013

Where Manoj Bhatia, CA-AM, senior product marketing manager of go-to-market strategy for the midmarket at Cisco, covered “David-Goliath” partnerships as they relate to the tech industry, Pannie Trifillis, Ph.D., CA-AM, director of alliance management at PTC Therapeutics, and Christophe Sarry, CA-AM, global alliance director at F. Hoffman–La Roche, tackled the issue from the pharma perspective in one of the final sessions of last week’s 2013 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in their presentation “Does Size Matter?: Handled Skillfully, Alliances Between Small and Large Companies Can Reap Big Benefits for Both.”

PTC and Roche are currently working together on two major collaborations. A few years ago, they first engaged around GEMS (Gene Expression Modulation by Small Molecules) technology. They formed a second initiative—one of the 2013 Alliance Excellence Awards runner-ups in the Individual Alliance category—dubbed the Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) alliance in which the two companies have teamed up with the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation to find a cure to a devastating disease that takes the lives of thousands of infants each year.

The two companies make for an interesting contrast. In the wake of its acquisition of Genentech, Roche now essentially has two large R&D organizations to manage. Contrast that to PTC, which has fewer employees (125) than Roche has partners (more than 150).

As the session title might suggest, you got the sense from both Trifillis and Sarry that the answer to the posed question is that the relative sizes of a biotech and a Global 1,000 drug manufacturer end up dictating the roles each plays in an alliance primarily, not the power dynamics of the relationship. The two scientists fittingly opened with a nature analogy to describe a “symbiosis” between the two entities; in the depths of our natural bodies of water, the cleaner shrimp species gets its nourishment by cleaning parasites, insects, algaes, and other matter off of the moray eel—the latter is essentially pampered with a bath, while the former enjoys a free meal.

Similarly, large pharmaceutical players and small biotechs have common goals: to originate new therapies, obtain regulatory approval, garner support from payers, be first to market, and maximize drug sales, according to Trifillis and Sarry.

This is not to say differences don’t exist. Small pharmaceutical companies are flexible, focused, nimble, have direct oversight from the company’s most senior management, and tend to be highly innovative. They also are limited financially as compared with their bigger brethren. On the other hand, big pharma has a significant wealth of available resources, and can reach high economies of scale with its global operations. Its large alliance portfolio enables an exchange of information across alliances and a high degree of learning internally.

Of course, with size comes a little more complexity and red tape, as processes must be set up to streamline operations. And, yes, these processes do impact the speed of decision making for an alliance.

“We can’t work without [these processes] as a large company,” said Sarry, who added that one of the primary challenges faced by the bigger organization is aligning resources and ensuring that they go to the right projects.

Trifillis saw one major benefit to the sharply distinct corporate cultures—the differences justify alliance management.

“We have a job,” she quipped.

Harnessing these differences brings great benefits to both sides. Biotechs provide large pharmaceutical companies: 1) early drug discovery capability, 2) specialized expertise (e.g., orphan drugs), 3) flexibility and faster decision making, which can help advance a program far more quickly than a large pharmaceutical company ever could, and an 4) innovative and entrepreneurial atmosphere.

A company like Roche brings to PTC a high degree of cost- and risk-sharing. With its abundant resources, Roche can leverage technology for new therapeutic areas and maximize the smaller partner’s expertise (particularly in expensive areas like cardiology and oncology which might be out of the smaller entity’s reach). On the commercial end of the drug development cycle, the large pharmaceutical’s existing sales and marketing engines can help drive the biotech’s drug to success in the marketplace. If nothing else, a larger company’s involvement offers validation of the smaller organization’s research.

The keys to making these types of relationships work? It all comes down to respect and trust, said the presenters. Know what is important to the partner, define the needs of the alliance up front, establish criteria for success early, manage resources skillfully, and maintain transparency while keeping an eye on common goals along the way.

Sarry said that it is crucial to be proactive and detail the large company’s formal processes in the alliance’s start-up phase, long before the biotech is confronted with a situation that involves cutting through rolls of red tape. Trifillis agreed.

“If expectations are set up front that it will take this much time, we can live with it,” she said.

In the bigger picture, a strong relationship has many benefits, even if a compound never reaches the market. You never know when you may need that partner again down the road. Laws of karma are certainly at play, so both sides have plenty of incentive to play nice.

“Drugs die, but relationships last,” said Trifillis.

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