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The Final Handshake: What’s an Alliance Manager To Do When the Time to Terminate Comes?

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, October 8, 2015

Best practices can be just as important in the final stretches of a partnership as they are when development and trials are proceeding apace or the revenue stream is peaking. How to gracefully negotiate that last stretch before the parting handshake was the focus of “The Graceful Exit: Preserving Value and Relationship at the End of the Lifecycle” presented at the 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference on Sept. 10 by Diana L. Brassard, CA-AM, of external partnerships at Basalta US Inc., Mark Coflin, CSAP, senior director of alliance management global business development & licensing, bioscience, at Baxalta US Inc., and Julia Gershkovich, head of US R&D alliance management at Sanofi.

 

Good preparation for terminations preserves companies’ reputations and secures future opportunities. “Preparation is critical,” said Gershkovich. “If a partner decided to terminate, the project team may not be already there. When you get to the termination point, all internal stakeholders need to be aware and agree on this point. There needs to be respect toward the partner and transparencya lot of times we are dealing with smaller companies, and it means a lot to them.”

 

“One termination that comes to mind was with a Japanese company that was well-prepared and respectful,” recalled Coflin. “We thought about how we were going to communicate with them and how to deliver the message, including whether we should be meeting with them face-to-face. It needs to be done in mutually respectful way, because there might be future business.”

 

The termination process often is very long and termination activity can take two years, observed Brassard. “There is a need internally to lock in and assure that you have resources, budgets assigned, and clarity with respect to senior leadership and with respect to obligations.”

 

Go through very defined, structured procedures, followed by putting together a table for when the transactions would go throughbefore the termination is completed, she added. “This is all very important for business development and legal procedures, and eventually for resource allocations to maintain the core team.”

 

When is it appropriate to wear more of a project management hat as an alliance manager during the termination process? “There were one or two projects where I played both roles,” said Brassard. “When things started getting more negative, and the data coming in was negative, there was a decision that the alliance manager was going to take more of a key role. The alliance management best practices were not complimentary to each other, so it was very helpful to have project management tools. A lot of what I was trying to do was maintain a respectful relationship.”

 

“I was fortunate in most of my cases,” added Gershkovich. “I had project managers working with me, and they were great. We had to deliver the messages, and in one case it was clear that it was mutually understandable because the data didn’t work out. But in another case, we had to go to district resolution to stop the program, and we were still able to continue the relationship and preserve the value.”

 

A smattering from their list of dos and don’ts:  

  • Let partners know as soon as possible.
  • Map out a communication plan.
  • Meet regularly.
  • Get together with legal stakeholders, and go through the legal provisions of the contract.
  • Be aware of cultural differences, sensitivities, and time zones.
  • Negotiate in a way where value is preserved; present it in a way that they can take it right away.
  • Intellectual property is importantbe prepared that all checkpoints are done.
  • Prior to a termination notice, communicate with your partnerthe process is so much easier with good communication if the program doesn’t work out.
  • Include public and investor announcements, but if a company may go bankrupt and/or the product may be taken out of the pipeline, minimize the announcement.
  • Craft the termination carefully, and keep in mind there may be ongoing studies.
  • Don’t assume your partner is going to be as organized and experienced as you are.
  • Don’t assume they have plans for receiving the asset that you have made.

Tags:  2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference  alliance management  Basalta US Inc.  Baxalta US Inc.  Best practices  communicate  Diana L. Brassard  Julia Gershkovich  Mark Coflin  partner  partnership  project management  Sanofi  stakeholders  terminations  transparency 

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The Benefits of Having the Alliance Manager, Attorney, and Business Developer Coordinated at the Negotiation Table—and Beyond: A Panel Discussion with Bayer HealthCare

Posted By Cynthia Hanson, Friday, September 11, 2015

You’ve assembled a great team and negotiated what seems to be a good deal with a partner. But if you are Bayer HealthCare, before you seal it with your legal teams, what do you need to consider before launching into what might be a 10- or 15-year arrangement?

 

“We’re talking about a process that needs alliance management, legal writing, and business development,” said moderator Ben Gomes-Casseres, CSAP and author, consultant, and professor at Brandeis University. “A mix of disciplines is probably what our message is here today. Claudia’s job is to get the deal, Karen’s is to live the deal, and John’s is to paper it over and make it legal. Three functions that are very important to coordinate,” he added, referring to the three panel members at the  2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference practical how-to session “Making the Link between Alliance Deal and Alliance Life”—Claudia Karnbach, vice president and head of business development and licensing, specialty medicine, Karen Denton, CA-AM, director of alliance management, and John A. Calvo, senior counsel.

 

In the traditional business model of biopharma alliances, a lot of handover and passing of the baton took place after the deal was inked. But companies like Bayer are evolving toward a more integrated approach, Gomes-Casseres said.  “If we can have the same people around the table negotiating and launching the deal, and get the same team doing due diligence and managing the alliance, it all helps with stronger alliance and consistency.” 

 

“You need to look at the deal through the lens of the contract,” added Calvo from the legal perspective. “Do we have mechanisms in the contract, how are we going to deal with lifecycle development? Those are the kinds of things you need to think about early on, because at negotiation, it’s really too late. … Just as we build in a mechanism for joint value, you need to look for disconnects such as if the parties are sharing expenses 50/50, but one party holds the decision-making.”

 

“Building on what John just said, we now have model where the alliance manager is pulled into the deal early,” said Karnbach. “We saw how this would benefit us in renegotiations. We are striving to have very few renegotiations. If you do direct development, at times things are changing quite fast and what you put in the contract is outlived tomorrow. What we have to do is build with transparency, common interest, and common value with the partner.”

 

“I am the main beneficiary here,” observed Denton from her alliance exec’s perspective. “I get a deal that is much more future-proof and manageable. The alliance is much easier to put into place.”

 

“I am the second beneficiary because I don’t have to jump into renegotiation,” added Karnbach. “I can only try to encourage all of you to incorporate this model because it will improve the [long-term] deal you do with other partners.”

 

“There has been a lot of change in mentality among alliance managers and attorneys,” said Denton. “When I first came into alliance management, we sat in different camps. If problems came up in alliance management, alliance managers would see it one way and legal would see it another way. John and I now meet every week—we are in the same tent and work together, to each other’s strength.”

 

Calvo concurs.  “We now discuss alliance issues when they are minor issues, before they blow up.” And one of the key benefits is the continuity: “In the past, everything was so siloed.”

 

But can bringing in the alliance manager at an early stage be disruptive? asked Gomes-Casseres.

 

“You need the consistency of people bringing stability and knowledge, not migration,” answered Karnbach. “Loss of knowledge can be avoided by having a person at the table and living the alliance later on.”

 

Denton recounted a positive partnering experience she had involving a very fast launch with a full team around the table in less than two weeks.

 

“That ability to hit the ground running can be valuable to both the company doing the deal and the partner company as well,” she said. “Listening to the parties’ needs and interests is necessary to structure the deal, but even more important when you start to live the deal. So when you are living the deal, you have to have an eye on the partners’ interests.”

Tags:  2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference  Alliance Deal  Alliance Life  Alliance Manager  Bayer HealthCare  Ben Gomes-Casseres  Brandeis University  Claudia Karnbach  John A. Calvo  Karen Denton  renegotiation 

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Sharing Alliance Management Capabilities across Enterprise and Globe: Takeda’s Center of Excellence Case Study

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Friday, September 11, 2015

Organizations today are collaborating at a pace that far outstrips the available resources of most alliance management organizations. While many collaborations don’t call for a full-time alliance professional, stakeholders typically need access some level of alliance management capabilities. At Wednesday’s ASAP Leadership Forum, held on the opening day of the 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston, I chatted with several seasoned biopharma alliance executives about how they increasingly are being pulled into advisory roles for new types of alliances—presenting exciting opportunities, yes, but piling more responsibilities onto an already heavy workload.

 

Developing a “center of excellence,” or COE, for alliance management represents an increasingly common approach for distributing the toolkits and tool-using expertise of alliance management more broadly across the organization for the use of both dedicated and part-time alliance managers. Takeda, Japan’s largest pharma company with ¥1.778 billion  annual revenues, built an ASAP Excellence Award-winning COE guided by alliance management practice but heavily engaging stakeholders outside the function in the COE’s design. On Thursday afternoon, three Takeda executives shared their methodology, challenges, and results in a conference session titled “From the User’s Perspective: An Alliance Management Center of Excellence Success Story.”

 

Two of Takeda’s senior directors of global alliance management, Gray Hulick, CA-AM, and Jenny Rohde, CA-AM, set the stage by describing the COE’s development and the cross-functional team involved. “Our main finding”—and driver of the COE—was that “Takeda didn’t have consistent approach to managing alliances,” explained Rohde. Takeda had a vision of the COE as “a hub for members to access alliance management tools, training, and share best practices, guided by an executive steering committee from across the organization, inclusive of functional area heads, and staffed across the globe.”

 

The COE was carefully designed from the end-user—meaning non-alliance executive—perspective.

 

“We did detailed needs assessments with the idea of really creating tools that our members need,” Hulick explained. “Interestingly, the needs are remarkably similar. People didn’t have access to tools, formal or informal alliance management training, and were unclear about what they were supposed to be doing in their jobs.” So for some end users, the COE’s key job was to make existing assets accessible. “We utilized in many cases tools and training we had access to—we already have toolkits focused on development and commercial partnerships.”

 

However, Takeda at that time lacked a research alliances toolkit—“something much more streamlined for research alliances,” as Hulick put it. This was developed with the deep involvement of Takeda’s third presenter—Kentaro Hashimoto, PhD, associate director of the oncology drug discovery unit in Takeda’s pharmaceutical research division. The need for the toolkit is clear. “More than 50 percent of our pipeline now comes from external partners—so as a research division this shows how important external innovation is to us,” Hashimoto said. More than 200 research alliances translated into an overwhelming task for non-professional managers. “Sometimes scientists serve not just as investigator and project manager, but also as alliance manager,” and across Takeda there was “a diversity of mindsets on how to manage alliances,” he explained. “Our vision is to have access to a worldwide network of scientific excellence” enabled by partnering excellence.

 

The toolkits—developed by the global team of end users and alliance executives that comprise the COE—were originally written in English, but then were translated by Japanese end users as a means of increasing end user ownership and making sure that the content is actionable by these end users. Takeda also has chosen not to mandate their use, but rather to create end-user pull for these resources.

 

Hashimoto shared several key lessons learned.

 

“I have to be honest, in the real world, it’s not so easy,” he said. “It really takes a long time to change mindset, people’s behavior, because they have their own experiences, and alliance managers have their own skills and experience too. So it can be difficult to move to a new way. Finding the right balance is important. You need to use alliance management toolkits and skills in the right time and right way. For example, forcing consensus (to sign the deal) at an early stage among researchers is not always the right way. You need to give them time before pushing for consensus. And governance—you can try to keep it as in the original contract, but sometimes the science brings things you didn’t realize, and you should follow the science, be flexible, even change if needed.”

 

Hashimoto emphasized that his involvement in the COE was a rewarding experience in many ways.

 

“I always enjoy working with COE core members. It was exciting to be part of this initiative.” And, he added, “From the user’s perspective in the research division, I got a chance to understand how our alliance management [capability] applies in a very objective way to our research activities. And we had the chance to develop by ourselves the toolkits and training programs to make our activities better.”

Tags:  2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference  alliance management  ASAP Excellence Award  center of excellence  COE  Gray Hulick  Jenny Rohde  Kentaro Hashimoto  Takeda  training 

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Focusing on ‘Alliance Expertise at the Forefront: Leadership for the Ecosystem,’ ASAP Issues Call for Topics and Presentations for 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference and 2016 ASAP Global Alliance Summit

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference is once again shaping up to be the pivotal event of the year for partnering executives in health and life sciences. ASAP has issued its call for presenters and presentations for the event, which will be held Sept. 9-11, 2015 at The Revere Hotel Boston Common, and for the March 1-4, 2016 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in National Harbor Maryland. 

In describing the focus of this year’s biopharma event, ASAP’s programs committee emphasized that the biopharma alliance executive’s job is more challenging than ever. “We lead increasingly complex and diverse collaborations spanning industries and sectors. As our industries relentlessly evolve and interconnect, success or failure—in a global ecosystem of pharma leaders, biotech innovators, service organizations, providers, agencies, academia, patient advocates, and more—now hinges on the adroit leadership of partnering executives.” 

The programs committee seeks a diversity of presentations on topics that address the challenges and opportunities facing today’s biopharma partnering executives and their organizations. Key questions that presenters are encouraged to address include: 

  • How we lead in a way that makes the difference? What does it take to be strategic and proactive—without losing a relentless focus on execution? How can we guide our organizations as they collaborate across boundaries—and operationalize brand new business models in an increasingly interconnected network of new and existing partners?
  • How can partnering executives seize opportunities and root out risks wherever we find them? How do we help our organizations “see around corners,” anticipate what’s next, and move forward confidently through continuously shifting business, societal, and regulatory landscapes.
  • What builds a rock-solid management foundation for partnering success? You can’t “wing it” with partnering and collaboration—so how can partnering executives utilize ASAP’s alliance management expertise, training, shared knowledge, certification, and community as key building blocks for their sustainable success.
  • How can partnering executives capture and deliver the value envisioned in every collaboration? 

The 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference will explore these and related questions, with the goal of helping partnering executives develop the perspective of visionary leadership and the expertise to act amidst uncertainty. Attendees at the 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference will enhance their management skills to engage stakeholders and integrate partnering throughout the business, fostering healthier outcomes for people and billions in stakeholder revenue for their biopharma organizations and ecosystems. 

It’s easier than ever to submit a topic for the 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference—or for the 2016 ASAP Global Alliance Summit. There are even two submission processes—a simplified one taking less than five minutes, and a more detailed proposal that takes about 20 minutes. Click here and follow the directions for submission.

Tags:  2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference  2016 ASAP Global Alliance Summit  academia  agencies  Alliance Expertise  biotech innovators  Call for Topics/Presentations  Ecosystem  global ecosystem of pharma leaders  health and life sciences  Leadership  partnering executives  providers  service organizations 

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