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New England Chapter Event Discusses Alliance Management amidst Disruption: ‘You’ve Got to Be Strategic, You’ve Got to Be Entrepreneurial, You’ve Got to Be Adaptable’

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Moderator Jan Twombly, president of The Rhythm of Business, introduced the panelists last Wednesday night, Nov. 5, as ASAP’s New England Chapter convened at the Verizon Innovation Center in Waltham, Mass. USA: Petra Sansom, head of alliance management, Genzyme; Alyssa Rosinski, global business development director, IAPP (International Association of Privacy Professionals); Kathy Faigen, Certified Client Executive, IBM; and Tony DeSpirito, VP, Global Alliances—IT Partners, Schneider Electric.


Twombly’s vivid opening slide—two planets in collision—acknowledged the challenging context of the evening’s topic, “Alliance Management in an Age of Disruption: Today’s Critical Partnering Success Factors.” Twombly then flashed four percentages on the screen: 92% … 68% … 42% … and 53%.


“Recent studies say 92% of chief marketing officers are looking to partner to get closer to customers and better understand them,” Twombly explained. “68% of chief information officers are partnering to bring additional capability to their organization,” she continued, noting that IBM studies are the source for these two data points. “42% represents CEOs in last year’s PwC survey who said they were going to enter into a significant strategic alliance within the next year.”


Finally, 53% represents that very familiar data point for anyone involved in alliance management—the virtually unchanged success rate for strategic alliances despite the proliferation of alliances and alliance management practice across most industries. “It is so clear that alliance management has to step up its game as partnering proliferates,” Twombly said. With her final slide, she asked her panel of expert practitioners, “So what’s changing for alliance managers—do the fundamentals still apply or do they need to change as our businesses change?”


Panelists then dived into the discussion—bringing diverse perspectives to an exploration of why alliance management matters more than ever today, yet must adapt if partner success rates are to improve.  Tony DeSpirito discussed how Schneider Electric—confronted with major disruption around the internet of things—moved beyond its stodgy infrastructure company heritage, recognized that it lacked many capabilities, and embraced partnering across both its traditional and emerging business lines. IBM’s Kathy Faigen discussed how her company developed a coherent approach to the disruptive technologies of SMAC (social, mobile, analytics, and cloud) while honing in on the crucial role of engagement, with customers and other constituents, in allowing businesses to successfully embrace unrelenting waves of change. Petra Sansom shared with the audience how Genzyme, a powerhouse biotechnology company now owned by Sanofi, is evolving its partnering strategy as it, and the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry overall, grapple with pricing pressure from all around the world.


Alyssa Rosinski rounded out the discussion with her organization’s interesting lens on disruption. Privacy challenges are exploding thanks to ubiquitous connection, mobile device proliferation, whistleblower disclosures (think Edward Snowden) and correspondingly magnified risks of exposure that companies of all types now face when handling personally identifiable information, she explained. In the face of this challenge, over just the past few years, IAPP membership has grown from 8,000 to more than 20,000.


When partnering amidst disruption, DeSpirito said, it’s vitally important to ensure that your partnering is tied to overall strategy—and to do that requires a strategic review of the portfolio, making sure you’ve got the right partners aligned to your company strategy . Faigen talked about the critical importance of ensuring you’ve got the right value proposition for your customer as well as for the partners. It’s never been more important to rethink, to relook at it, and make sure the value proposition remains relevant, she explained.  


Wednesday night’s panelists also talked about importance of governance and metrics.


“That can be harder to do amidst disruption, because people are so crazily busy, so it’s hard to make the time to plan, to evaluate, it can be hard to think beyond the current crisis or meeting the current quarter’s numbers,” Twombly noted. “I think some of it is a maturing of the alliance capability, where people are recognizing the importance of having good governance. In biopharma, governance is in the contract but that’s not always the case in other industries.”


The final question of the night went to Alyssa Rosinski. Asked what quality or skill she is finding essential, she said that adaptability is at the top of her list.


Adaptability is, not surprisingly, crucial for alliance managers, who must “understand your partners’ needs, understand what your organization needs, understand what the customer needs, and be flexible and adaptable about how you’re going to get your result,” Twombly said in summarizing the discussion.


“In other words, you’ve got to be strategic, you’ve got to be entrepreneurial, you’ve got to be the expert,” she said. “You’re the one who needs to know everything about your partner, to represent the partner within your company, and everything about your company, to represent it to the partner. You’re the only one who has that big picture view, and that’s part of the expectations of senior management today.”

Tags:  alliance management  Alyssa Rosinski  ASAP’s New England Chapter  biopharma  disruption  Genzyme  governance  IAPP  IBM  Jan Twombly  Kathy Faigen  Petra Sansom  Schneider Electric  SMAC  The Rhythm of Business  Tony DeSpirito  Verizon Innovation Center 

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ASAP BioPharma Conference Keynote Address, Part Two: John Maraganore Describes the Roadmap for Success in the Alnylam-Genzyme Partnership

Posted By John W. DeWitt , Thursday, September 18, 2014

Petra Sansom, head of alliance management at Genzyme, described Alnylam as “a very collaborative partner—from senior management to project teams.” In particular, she commented after listening to Alnylam CEO John Maraganore speak in-depth about the two companies’ landmark alliance, “I have very strong CEO engagement for this alliance. For me as an alliance manager, it makes it really valuable. We have a very rich portfolio on the rare disease side and a shared vision of a multiyear, multi-asset collaboration.”


In his keynote address at the 2014 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston USA on Thursday, Sept. 4, Maraganore described this shared vision, honing in on Alnylam’s deal strategy and framework for managing its partnership with Sanofi-owned Genzyme. In January, Alnylam, a pioneer in the development of RNA interference (RNAi) therapies, signed a far-reaching deal to expand its Genzyme partnership, which began in October, 2012. (Click here for Part One of our coverage of Maraganore’s lively and richly detailed keynote address.)


Maraganore described some of Alnylam’s “strategic considerations in December of last year before we did this deal” with Genzyme, including:


  • The success of the underlying science. “The science works. It’s a modular, reproducible platform, and opportunities abound with ‘just’ liver delivery alone,” he explained. “Even with liver delivery, we have more on our plates than we can deal with.”
  • How to access capabilities and funding. “With the complexity of product development and commercialization, $1 billion was required to reach profitability.” But Alnylam couldn’t give away the farm to get that funding. “We felt we needed to retain significant product rights to build maximal value—we want to build billion-dollar biotech, and felt we needed to maintain development and commercial control to fulfill our commitment to patients with Alnylam’s urgency.” 
  • How to maximize value while maintaining independence. Maraganore went on to ask rhetorically, “If it goes to your partner, have you given away the company?” For Alnylam, he emphasized, there was “absolute desire at the level of the board to build an independent company, because we believe we can build a lot more value than if we get acquired by somebody else.”

On the backbone of the success of Alnylam’s first alliance in 2012 with Genzyme (“ for Japan and Asia/Pacific, with $22.5 million up front , additional milestone payments totaling $50 million, and tiered royalties”) “we generated some very critical human data in our TTRsc program. These data were the validation of our potential to expand the pipeline—they convinced our technical colleagues at Genzyme and cemented the impression that this approach could be transformative.”


Maraganore and his counterpart David Meeker, CEO of Genzyme, deliberately set out to create a “Roche-Genentech-like expanded alliance” and forged the deal on a “rapid timetable from August 2013 to January 2014, with the contract signed right before JP Morgan [Healthcare Conference]” in San Francisco. “The world loved it, there was lots of media coverage and fanfare—that was all a lot of fun,” Maraganore commented before getting down to the nuts and bolts of what he described as “a transformational alliance to expand and accelerate global product value.” Key elements include:


  • Multiproduct, option-based scope and structure.
  • Geographic license structure – Alnylam retains North America and Western Europe, with Genzyme having the option (expires 2019 or no later than 2021) for the rest of the world
  • Rare disease field only.
  • Eight programs must hit Proof of Concept.
  • An overall alliance built and managed around the “Alnylam 5x15 pipeline” and future RNAi therapeutics as genetic medicines.

“It is a good deal for Genzyme because they are coming in after human studies,” Maraganore pointed out. “The default mode is Alnylam keeps North America and Europe, but there are exceptions – e.g. areas where there’s significant market development needed and we can do it leveraging the infrastructure and resources of Genzyme and Sanofi.” Another exception was in the area of hemophilia—Genzyme “wanted more product rights to justify the investment,” he explained, adding that “equity agreements were very important, [therefore] very heavily negotiated.”


The ongoing relationship is carefully managed through what Maraganore called an “Alliance Management Best Practice Framework.” He emphasized executing on the “basic but critical” elements of effective alliance management—“start off well and keep it up!” with

  •  Shared mission
  • Clear goals, roles, and expectations
  • Explicit governance and decision-making
  • Collaborative relationships and communication
  • Senior commitment, supportive culture, and champions
  • Proactive management of scientific challenges

Indeed, senior executives from both companies are deeply involved in alliance governance and day-to-day operations, Maraganore said.


“The Alliance Joint Steering Committee (AJSC) is the highest level of our alliance team, with very senior people—our president is on that team, the head of rare disease at Genzyme, our chief medical officer, and so on,” he said. “CEOs get involved if the AJSC can’t achieve consensus. The AJSC coordinates overall activities and coordinates disputes—it’s the decision-making body. We also have product-specific steering committees, a portfolio advisory committee, [and other committees including] pipeline advisory, intellectual property, manufacturing, and finance.”


Maraganore and his counterpart, Genzyme CEO David Meeker, are not just champions but also very actively engaged in the day-to-day of the alliance. “I have a close working relationship with David, both formal and casual,” Maraganore said. “I get texts from my wife, kids, and David. We see each other in meetings, we meet monthly, and we have dinner together occasionally.”

Tags:  2014 ASAP BioPharma Conference  Alliance Joint Steering Committee  Alnylam  David Meeker  Genzyme  John Maraganore  Petra Sansom  Roche-Genentech  TTRsc program 

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John Maraganore: Alnylam’s Alliance with Genzyme ‘Transformed Our Balance Sheet, Giving Us Financial Independence’

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Monday, September 15, 2014

Alliance executives often struggle with measuring the value delivered by alliances and the alliance management function. Alnylam CEO John Maraganore has no such difficulty. His company is a pioneer in the development of RNA interference (RNAi) therapies. Amidst great fanfare preceding the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, in January of this year Alnylam signed a far-reaching partnership deal with Sanofi-owned Genzyme. In his lively and richly detailed keynote address at the 2014 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston USA on Thursday, Sept. 4, Maraganore clearly articulated this alliance’s growth and financial implications for Alnylam business.


“This provided a major capital infusion as well as expense sharing going-forward,” he explained in a talk entitled “Alnylam-Genzyme: Breakthrough Therapy Made Possible by Breakthrough Partnership. “Our deal with Genzyme took our balance sheet from $325 million to over $1 billion. It transformed our balance sheet, giving us financial independence all the way to becoming profitable.”


Yet this financial payoff still isn’t what Maraganore considers the most significant value of this alliance. “More than the money, we were convinced that working with Genzyme would increase the pie,” he said. “Without this deal, we probably would have been more stepwise in building our pipelines.”


RNAi therapeutics, Maraganore explained to a rapt audience of biopharma industry alliance executives, are a new class of innovative medicines based on a clinically validated platform that harnesses natural pathways for therapeutic gene silencing. “Hundreds of diseases can be knocked down with our strategy—the ‘Alnylam 5x15 Strategy’—which provides a reproducible and modular path for genetic medicines.”


Maraganore’s talk began with an overview of the science that brought Genzyme and Alnylam together.


“What we do, and why it’s so potentially powerful, is we change nothing but the sequencing of the drug to make it attack a different gene. In part one of our development, we’ve figured out the targeting of liver-expressed genes. You know with almost complete certainty that you will impact by targeting that gene,” he explained. “The second part of our strategy helps to stack the odds in our favor. If we can learn in Phase One trials that our drug is working, and if we can learn in that study how we get to the right dose regimen, we get through another critical unknown. A lot of drugs fail in Phase Three because you don’t get to the right dose.”


Maraganore frankly acknowledged that the final part of Alnylam’s strategy—getting through regulatory approval and on the market—“has no free lunch.” However, the company’s product strategy has allowed it to reduce the scope and cost of Phase Three trials.


“We really focused on areas with a definable path to approval and market … where our Phase Three program would be comprised of hundreds of patients as compared to thousands or tens of thousands of patients. We’re a small company, so our strategy has led us into the rare disease space,” he explained, emphasizing that Alnylam has taken a “collaborative approach with patients, payers, and regulators.”


Even just with an initial focus on the liver, Alnylam has no shortage of diseases to target—“almost everything in genetic disease space,” Maraganore said. Current examples include:


  • Transthyretin-Mediated Amyloidosis (ATTR). “This is an unmet need and product opportunity. It presents middle of life and can result in liver or heart failure ultimately. There are 50,000 victims worldwide.”
  • Hemophilia. “Why would knockdown strategy work if caused by a genetic lack? By knocking down anticoagulants,” Maraganore said. “It’s a $9 billion market with high unmet need.”
  • Porphyria, an ultra-rare orphan disease.  

In ASAP Media’s next blog post on Maraganore’s speech, we will delve into the Alnylam CEO’s fascinating review of his company’s groundbreaking partnership with Genzyme—what he described as “a transformational alliance to expand and accelerate global product value.”

Tags:  •Transthyretin-Mediated Amyloidosis (ATTR)  2014 ASAP BioPharma Conference  Alnylam  Genzyme  Hemophilia  John Maraganore  Porphyria  Sanofi 

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