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Awards Finalists Describe Complex Joint Venture for a New Vaccine—Part 1

Posted By ASAP Media, Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Merck Vaccines and Sanofi Pasteur are finalists for a 2019 ASAP Alliance Excellence Award to be presented at the upcoming ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Agile Partnering in Today’s Collaborative Ecosystem,” March 11-13 at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The companies built a joint venture for a new drug utilizing a governance model inspired by small, nimble biotech companies to ensure speed and flexibility. The commercialization phase of the new drug has been very successful. ASAP Media asked Jean-Phillipe Proust and Chris Scirrotto of Sanofi Pasteur, and Eric Skjeveland of Merck Vaccines to respond to these questions to help our readers better understand the processes used to develop the very complex joint venture, and why it’s noteworthy for the alliance management community.

Why did you apply for an ASAP Alliance Excellence Award?

We thought the alliance management community would be interested in our experiences bringing two large vaccine companies together, with different organizations and cultures, in order to create an agile European structure able to adjust and adapt to the new market condition in Europe (MCM Vaccine BV). At the same time, these two companies were closing a long-lasting, full-scale joint venture in the same market geographya very complex undertaking that ended up successfully.   

What drug was developed?

VAXELIS is an infant hexavalent combination vaccine that helps to protect against six diseasesdiphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), poliomyelitis, hepatitis B and invasive disease due to H. influenzae type b.  This complex global product has taken more than 15 years to develop and launch in the European Union market. The six antigens in this vaccine are produced and packaged using five different facilities in four countries between EU and North America.   

What best practices did you use to improve alliance management practices and enhance the outcome?

  • Aligned and clear objectives: These were established early on and used as guideposts when making decisions on how the alliance would be structured, the framework of the governance model, and dispute resolution.
  • Trust level needed to improve: We moved from a neutral level of trust following the decision to dismantle the SPMSD joint venture, through several stages of building trust rather quickly.  The MCM joint team is now truly at a partnership level, where we respect the differences in thinking and culture of both organizations. We have a shared vision for VAXELIS, conduct shared planning sessions among those that are assigned to the joint venture, and amicably resolve our differences.
  • Fairness: Partnerships need to be built on a true win-win basis. If during the negotiation one of the parties gets the impression of imbalance, the future and outcomes will be less certain; in a negotiation for a sustainable, long partnership, the goal is to find a balanced compromise.
  • Active sponsorship from senior leadership: Senior leaders are involved not only at the joint steering committee level, but routinely participate in team meetings for the joint venture, etc.  They make a concerted effort to be visible and support the joint venture.
  • Structure and governance: Established an effective and efficient governance framework, including team charters for all governance committees with clear and simplified operating principles, decision making, and escalation procedures. We made the decision to operate and build the partnership with a “biotech spirit” with a dedicated, limited team empowered to make decisions and move quickly.
  • Created a collaborative culture: The partners have shared values and behaviors such as: open, two-way communication among those that are assigned to the joint venture, agreement to disagree respectfully and address issues early, honor and respect of differences in company culture and approach, and operation in a transparent manner with respect to the joint venture.
  • MCM Annual Meeting: Merck Vaccines and Sanofi Pasteur conduct a global MCM annual meeting, which brings together the key staff supporting the joint venture to celebrate past year successes, share lessons learned, and plan for the upcoming year for VAXELIS. A good portion of the meeting time is dedicated to F2F governance meetings for the product.
  • Alliance health checks: These were conducted twice during the first 18 months, which helped us course correct. An important finding on the Merck side was that there were too many people partially involved in the JV, which was creating unnecessary complexity and communication. We streamlined the number of people involved in the alliance and asked for a higher percentage of their time.

See Part 2 of this blog post for further information on the 2019 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards and the Merck Vaccine and Sanofi Pasteur alliance. And stay tuned for additional awards coverage on the ASAP blog and in the monthly and quarterly Strategic Alliance magazines.

Tags:  Alliance health checks  alliance management  ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards  biotech  Chris Scirrotto  collaborative culture  commercialization phase  dispute resolution  Eric Skjeveland  governance model  Jean-Phillipe Proust  joint venture  Merck Vaccines  negotiation  Sanofi Pasteur 

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Closing the C-Suite's Collaboration Gap

Posted By Contributed by Jan Twombly, CSAP & Jeff Shuman, CSAP, PhD | The Rhythm of Business, Thursday, January 24, 2019

Earlier this month, we presented and recorded a webinar to expand upon our mini e-book that we wrote together with our partner Alliancesphere, Own Your Transformation: A Five-Point Agenda for Creating Your Organization’s Collaborative Leadership System. The key message of the presentation is to urge alliance professionals to take charge of closing the gap between the happy talk about the importance of partnering and the actual ability of organizations to collaborate and partner well in a digital world.

Yes, this is our soap box and it has been for many years. The difference today is all the data reporting C-Suite executives really do believe partnering is important and a core pillar of their growth and transformation strategies. They also think their organizations collaborate and partner effectively. Their employees disagree. Take a look at some data from a recent Capgemini study.[1]   

We’ve witnessed this gap in our work for years and years. For example, in a recent project assessing the current state of an alliance management practice and charting a course for its future, a senior executive told us how important alliances were to the future of the business. We then interviewed one of his senior people ostensibly responsible for an important partner. He told us he’d had only a one-hour call to familiarize himself with the role of an alliance director. No surprise, he didn’t think this was sufficient to allow him to be successful in the role. This may be an extreme case, but it illustrates the gap that exists between the belief that alliances and partnering are critical for growth and the failure to recognize that a system of collaborative leadership must become part of the organization’s culture and operating norms. It is an Achille’s heel of business transformation.

Here’s another example: A company that is remaking themselves to focus strictly on downstream go-to-market activities has outsourced all upstream research and development capabilities except project management to oversee the outsourced service providers. Outsourcing a capability is not about managing a series of projects. It is engaging with third parties to build collaborative relationships that leverage the resources of each party for mutual benefit—to achieve a synergistic relationship where 1+1>3. In other words, the reason for—the essence of— partnership.  

During the webinar, we discussed our five-point agenda for creating a collaborative leadership system that starts with owning your own transformation. You can’t expect to drive change in your organization without demonstrating how you’re changing. Every alliance professional has something in their job description and potentially in their goals and accountabilities, to “create an environment for collaboration with alliance partners,” or something similar. Specifically executing on this piece of the job has always taken a back seat to immediate revenue generation or ensuring a co-development project happens smoothly. No longer. Today—when partnering everywhere in an organization is the recipe for growth—creating that environment becomes an essential part of the job. The collaborative leadership system—the mechanism through which leadership is exercised—is what enables it.

Closing the gap between the partnering and collaboration capability CEOs think their companies have and what they actually have is essential to the digital business transformation powering growth for legacy companies and a core capability for entrepreneurial ventures. Alliance professionals are typically part of the powerful middle of the organization—the Rosetta Stone of the organization—translating senior leadership directives into operational objectives and understanding from the field and other customer-facing personnel the successes and challenges at an execution level, scaling or adjusting accordingly.  Who other than alliance professionals should be leading the charge to close the gap between what CEOs think about their organization’s ability to collaborate and the reality?

[1] Capgemini Digital Transformation Institute, “The Digital Culture Challenge: Closing the Employee-Leadership Gap,” 2018 

Tags:  alliance management  collaboration  collaborative leadership system  digital culture  digital transformation  Jan Twombly  Jeff Shuman  partnering  The Rhythm of Business 

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Rethinking Trust, Reshaping Industries: The Alliance Implications of Blockchain Technology as Seen Through the Eyes of IBM and ChromaWay

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson , Tuesday, October 16, 2018

IBM’s blockchain ledger solution has been gaining ground over the past year through extensive partnering. Much like a team sport, “the only way blockchain works is by participants in an ecosystem working together,” says Janine Grasso, vice president, blockchain strategy and ecosystem development, IBM Industry Platforms. Grasso was interviewed early in the year about blockchain technology for the Q1 2018 Strategic Alliance Magazine in the article “’An Exponential Adoption Curve’: The Changing Face of Data Security in Partnering”. When the article was first published, IBM had 40 to 50 active blockchain networks. That number has increased to 75 live networks solving industry-wide blockchain problems. Grasso will be discussing the implications of blockchain technology with co-speaker Todd Miller, CA-AM, vice president, US business development, ChromaWay, in the session “Rethinking Trust on the Blockchain: Partnering and Alliance Implications” at the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum, “Reimaging Part­nering in a Disruptive World,” on October 17, at the Four Points by Sheraton, San Jose Airport, San Jose, California. In a recent interview, I asked Grasso about the core of the upcoming session.

ASAP Media: You are presenting with Todd Miller. What do the two of you plan to focus on?

Janine Grasso: We come from two very different perspectives. But we agree on how much blockchain will change all industriesand not just the ones most talked about, such as finance and supply chain. We’re both asking: “What role can we play to help partners do that?” We’re both trying to equip alliance managers and partners. This session is not just about reselling technology. It’s about applying tech across all industries; bringing together players that traditionally compete. We will go through our different backgrounds and points of view. We’ll discuss the problems around this new era and the world as it is today with blockchainthe same old problems that are slowing [the progress of] blockchain down, such as lack of trust, data disruption, and business disruption. And competitorsone start-up, like Über, can completely change the game in an industry.

Being able to leverage this new tech to reshape your industry is the punch line. We’ll go into what blockchain does and the capabilities of blockchain. We will round off the conversation with real-life examples and a discussion on how, exactly, companies across many different industries are applying the technology. How they also are breaking down the barriers that have existed for hundreds of years. And we’ll discuss music and royalty rights, talk about identity, food safety and the IBM Food Trust solution, and then go into the role of the alliance manager and how they can facilitate blockchain options.

So there are strong alliance implications with blockchain?

The true design of blockchain is the industry players or ecosystem coming together and bringing it to life. Blockchain is not singular. The only way it works is with participants in an ecosystem working together, so it’s very much a team sport.

The session description states you will cover technologies that “facilitate decentralized data sharing and secure transactions [that] will accelerate new business models beyond even Über, Spotify, and Airbnb.” Can your provide an example of a new business model?

Blockchain ingrains the trust in every transaction along its journey. In the case of a farmer and a distributor, it becomes transparent exactly where the food item came from: the genesis, authenticity of that product, and exposure to any contamination. The data explosion will continue and remain because of your digital ecosystem, and everything has that digital footprint now. You can encrypt information by attaching it in a blockchain. You only have to take elements that are necessary. That alleviates concerns around datait gives the security and data protection required and only uses crucial data in the blockchain. One example of a new business model is with Everledger, which uses blockchain in the diamond industry. There is traditionally a lack of trust and authenticity about where diamonds come from. Blockchain can now provide that information and verify its authenticity.

What is the No. 1 question you expect to hear in the Q&A session?

How do I get started? How can IBM help small and large companies convene a network because of its large ecosystem and client base? How do I participate? I suspect we will hear a lot of question about alliance management.  

Stay tuned for more of the ASAP Media team’s coverage of the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum on the ASAP Blog at www.strategic-alliances.org. Learn more and register for the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum at http://asaptechforum.org

Tags:  Alliance  alliance management  Blockchain  ChromaWay  data protection  Data Security  ecosystem  encrypt information  IBM  Janine Grasso  Partnering  Todd Miller 

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‘Swimming in Partner Soup:’ 2018 ASAP BioPharma Keynote Addresses Challenges of Tech Collaboration on Prescription Digital Therapeutics (Part 1)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Dr. Corey McCann is a man who wears many hats—scrubs, academic cap, campaigner, jester, and even hardhat. As the first of two keynote speakers at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference “Creating Value and Innovative Partnerships by Driving the Alliance Mindset,” Sept. 24-26 in Boston, Massachusetts USA, he provided a lively presentation in which he showed the audience how he switches his hats with aplomb. In his captivating talk, “Lost in Translation: Communication, Confusion, and Consensus in Strategic Alliances,” the physician, scientist, entrepreneur, healthcare investor, and founder/CEO of Boston-based Pear Therapeutics, Inc., delved into the timely but tough topic of the alliance management interface between biopharma and tech.

Colleague Brooke Paige, CSAP and vice president of alliance management at Pear Therapeutics, introduced McCann by lauding his many “heroic” accomplishments as founder of several startups, a trained boxer with endless energy, and highly approachable executive whom colleagues nicknamed “Snacks” because he rarely stops for a full meal.

McCann then delivered a clever, sometimes humorous, talk from the C-suite about the small, innovative company’s partnering with big companies in their quest to pioneer prescription digital therapeutics for the treatment of serious diseases, including addictions.  The cognitive behavioral therapy-based treatment is software that comes with a doctor’s prescription. The software responds and morphs over time, according to the needs of the patient. The downloaded product requires an access code from the physician.

“We are swimming in partner soup,” announced McCann as he talked about the challenges of Pear’s ample pipeline, which involves 10 products that require separate approvals from the FDA because of the unique framework of prescription digital therapeutics. “You will see us aggressively partnering across all of these verticals,” he continued, while flashing a slide of Pear’s pipeline.

Alliance management at Pear must bridge two distinctive worlds. Pear’s team is “half and half,” he explained: pharma is based in the Boston area; tech is based in the San Francisco Bay area. “We brought these two very disparate sets of people together” in one company—but to do that required a lot of effort to enable tech and pharma to understand the lingo of each’s area of work.   

“One of the things I would like to interweave into this talk is this idea of communication between alliance partners, and nonverbal cues, and how we are productive or nonproductive,” he said, while providing the example of etiquette surrounding the exchange of business card. “Even for those of us who think we have a handle on this very basic skill—this handing of paper to another human being—there is ambiguity.”

“How do entirely different disciplines communicate?” he asked the audience.  “There is an interface between tech and biotech. How tech people communicate with one another is very different than how biotech people communicate with each other.”

People in the two industries dress differently, he then explained. A person in the Bay area might “eat avocado toast and ride a scooter to work. … If I’m interacting with the tech team, I make sure to pet their dogs they bring to the office,” he explained in a sea of laughter from the audience. “One of my personal favorite examples is this issue of language. When pulling Pear together, we used the acronym API—which means Application Program Interface in tech, but for biotech, it means something different”—Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient.

It actually took a while for the two teams to figure out this discrepancy, he explained, again as the audience rippled with laughter. But in the end, the two industries found the glue that holds them together: “Impacting the patient. That is the rallying cry for us. That is how we approach partnership—through good and bad.”

Stay tuned for more of ASAP Media’s coverage of Pear CEO Corey McCann’s keynote and other sessions at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference.  

Tags:  2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference  Alliance management  Alliance Mindset  biopharma  Brooke Paige  cognitive behavioral therapy  creating value  C-suite  Dr. Corey McCann  partnering  Pear Therapeutics  prescription digital therapeutics  software  Strategic Alliances  tech 

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‘You Give Me a Buck, and We Give You Back Three’: Pharma Partnering Leaders Discuss Roles—and the Value of Alliance Management

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Friday, April 13, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The evolving roles of alliance executives—and capturing the value of the alliance function—were among the many topics that emerged as during the Tuesday, March 27 leadership panel discussion, “Driving Alliance Excellence into the Future,” moderated by Andy Eibling, CSAP, former Covance vice president of alliances, at the ASAP 2018 Global Alliance Summit, “Propelling Partnering for the On-Demand World: New Perspectives + Proven Practices for Collaborative Business,” March 26-28, 2018. Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

 

Pharma executives joining Eibling for the discussion included Casey Capparelli, global product general manager in oncology at Amgen; Nancy Griffin, CA-AM, vice president and head of alliance management, global business development & licensing at Novartis; Mark Noguchi, vice president and global head, alliances and asset management, at Roche; and David S. Thompson, CA-AM, chief alliance officer, Eli Lilly and Company. (Editor’s Note: See the forthcoming April 2018 edition of eSAM Plus for more coverage of this fascinating leadership discussion.)

 

When Eibling threw out the topic of alliance management’s role in acquisitions, mergers, and divestments, and business development and licensing, he noted, “You need to differentiate between a stop and start in terms of divestments. Divestments can be ongoing. Someone in the group manages the ongoing process.”

 

Capparelli: In Amgen that holds true for small acquisitions, but large complex acquisitions need to be managed separately.

 

Thompson: You need to look to someone else to run a large acquisition.

 

Eibling: There’s lots happening in the pharma world today, but will it continue?

 

Thompson: There are more and more partnerships. The trend grows and grows. Today each alliance manager is involved with 20 to 30 alliances. How do you manage ever increasing volume? It’s hard to predict if something will come to fruition.

 

Eibling: Let’s look at the role of the alliance manager, and how it has shifted between project management and alliance management. Alliance management and project management need to be connected at the hip and carve out space through the partnership management team. There are three roles in a partnership management team. The question is who drives those team meetings? Who is accountable? Does the project manager manage the success of the alliance?

 

Thompson: Most M&A integration gets done in 100 days. The work looks the same except it’s compressed. It takes 100 days to swallow an alliance. It’s at a pace you need in an M&A.

 

Capparelli: Deal making is a transactional approach, but building trust generates respect.

 

Griffin: You build an operating model in the core so that you build consistent capabilities.

 

Noguchi: The Roche alliance group is modeled after Lilly. The skill set is there but compressed.

 

Eibling: There’s a shift between deal makers and an alliance manager with a partner. No one understands the dynamics as well as an alliance manager. With ever expanding projects, it’s the alliance manager who understands motivations and how to construct the alliance and M&A deal.

“Let’s look at value,” Eibling said, wrapping up the panel discussion. “How do you capture the value of alliance management? How do you define value?” he asked Thompson.

“Alliances are not efficient but effective,” Thompson asserted.

 

“Fear is a great motivator,” he continued. “I’ve seen too many alliances go out of existence. They focused on relationship management but didn’t expand beyond that to the legal and business risk. That contributed to their demise. They didn’t feel valued in the organization. So, in times of hardship, they’re an easy target to eliminate,” he explained.

 

“We saw it happening and so became open about our model. We measure continuation. We are adjudicated by leadership. It’s valuable to talk about your own contributions. You get the [internal] client you’re supporting to agree based on what they think—what they value or don’t value. Is this a risk reduction or efficiency game? You build to be efficient but it’s the face-to-face that often counts.  As for monetizing the value of alliance management, it’s simple. You give me a buck, and we give you back three.”

Tags:  acquisitions  alliance management  alliance manager  Amgen  Andy Eibling  Casey Capparelli  David S. Thompson  Eli Lilly and Company  leadership  M&A  M&A integration  Mark Noguchi  Nancy Griffin  Novartis  partner  partnerships  Pharma executives  project manager  Roche 

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