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Reset, Relaunch, Rebirth: Rejuvenating a Longtime Alliance to Create Future Value

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Thursday, October 17, 2019

What happens when a more than three-decade-old alliance that has gone through its share of turmoil nears the end of its contractual life? Does it simply wind down in collective exhaustion, ending with a whimper? Does it crash and burn? Or can it somehow rise from the ashes of the past?

            Two European biopharma companies struggled toward the answer to that question, and ended up resetting and relaunching their alliance to mutual benefit. Eric Ferrandis, CA-AM, vice president of strategic alliances at Ipsen, and Fabrice Paradies, director of industrial business development and global commercial alliance at Debiopharm Group, described the process of bringing their two companies’ productive partnership back from the brink and back to life in their presentation, “Partnership Reset and Launch: How to Complete the Past?” at the recently concluded ASAP BioPharma Conference 2019, held Sept. 23–25 in Boston.

            Paris-based Ipsen, a 90-year-old company specializing in oncology, neuroscience, and rare diseases, and the 40-year-old Debiopharm, a drug development company based in Lausanne, Switzerland, had an alliance going back to 1983 that had been very productive for both of them. This 35-year partnership sprang from a series of agreements and amendments for the licensing of Triptorelin—brand name Decapeptyl—a drug used in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer, endometriosis, and breast cancer, among other conditions.

            The DKP alliance, as it was known, created value for both companies, but as Ferrandis and Paradies acknowledged, it also had been set up in such a way as to cause “pain points” that those working on the alliance had never been able to address holistically. So what to do?

            As the alliance agreement neared its end by mid-2018, both companies’ CEOs agreed that a new alliance framework must be put in place, with negotiation leads empowered to get a new contract signed by the end of that year and relaunch the alliance for the long term. Accordingly, by July 2018 the companies hired the consultancy The Rhythm of Business to help get their partnership back on track by identifying the key problems that had hindered its efficient functioning and to assist in rebuilding a common vision for the alliance.

            The initiation of the reset process involved two workshop sessions covering two days and involving personnel from key functions across both companies. Among the key findings that emerged from those sessions:

  • Both Ipsen and Debiopharm still saw a promising future for the DKP alliance.
  • They also felt that the alliance’s current economic model would not unleash the full growth potential of the brand.
  • More indications launched in more territories globally would deliver greater value to both partners.
  •   Greater proactive investment in product innovation and life cycle management was required for continued success and growth.
  • The long-term relationship had laid a solid foundation, but some deep-seated divisions and differences still needed to be overcome.

Armed with these findings, the two companies’ negotiation teams—primarily three people on each side, with support from above and below—set about to restructure the alliance and set it on a better course, by:

  • Aligning financial terms in the new economic model, across all formulations of the product
  • Developing a joint life cycle management plan that fuels appropriate product innovation
  • Strengthen alliance governance to support the more ambitious economic model and operating framework
  • Working hard to build trust and ensure transparent and effective communication

As Ferrandis commented, “Everything is about trust.”

            As the new agreement was being negotiated, it was agreed that the old contract would remain in effect and the status quo of the alliance would continue on both sides. Other key points, according to Ferrandis and Paradies:

  • The need for a reset was agreed on by both companies.
  • There was buy-in by both companies’ senior leaders and leadership teams.
  • The revenue from the DKP alliance was important to both companies, so it was clearly understood that the reset/relaunch effort needed to go deep into both organizations.
  • The negotiation teams included representatives from alliance management, business development, and legal, and had input from a number of other functional areas—as well as critical support from senior leaders.

Both Ferrandis and Paradies admitted that while everyone involved wanted to “move fast” on the reset effort, it was important to lay the groundwork even before negotiations commenced to get the partnership relaunched. “We had to change the mindset” internally, said Paradies. Doing this work ahead of time—and having “the right people in the room,” as Jan Twombly, CSAP, principal of The Rhythm of Business, noted—led to a “new partnership spirit” in the alliance, according to Ferrandis.

            Ferrandis also cited leadership as “the greatest alliance management skill,” adding that behaving as a leader includes going to senior leadership when necessary to get buy-in and help get issues resolved.

            A new agreement was signed in 2018 that provided for 15 additional years of partnership between Ipsen and Debiopharm, featuring a new economic model with better-aligned financial terms, a new R&D framework with cost sharing for codevelopment mechanisms, new governance giving Ipsen final say over development and commercialization and Debiopharm control over manufacturing, and what the copresenters called a “commercial bold ambition.”

And once the new contract was signed, senior company personnel celebrated with a joint dinner in Montreux, Switzerland, on Lac Léman (Lake Geneva). The moral? For the rebirth of a long-running alliance like this one, said Ferrandis, “Don’t forget to celebrate each time you can.”  

Tags:  alignment  alliance management  codevelopmen  Debiopharm Group  Eric Ferrandis  Fabrice Paradies  Ipsen  negotiation  partner  partnership  Partnership Reset ASAP BioPharma Conference  R&D 

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Mayoly Spindler’s Stéphane Thiroloix: More on What CEOs Expect from Alliance Management

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Friday, September 9, 2016

Yesterday, Mayoly Spindler’s CEO Stéphane Thiroloix kicked off the opening plenary of the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference. His hour-long presentation and Q&A discussion riveted attendees and teed up key themes for the remainder of the three-day event at the Revere Hotel Boston Common, which was attended by more than 150 life sciences and healthcare partnering executives from around the world. A perennial topic of discussion among alliance execs, regardless of industry, has been how to make what alliance executives do top-of-mind in the C-suite—and how to educate and influence senior executives on how better to leverage alliance management to support the company’s strategic goals. Thiroloix’s talk resonated—because he truly “gets” alliance management and how it fits into an organization. 

Thiroloix has pushed to expand the role of alliance management in Mayoly Spindler, which focuses on gastroenterology and dermocosmetics—so he’s a fan of alliance management and argues that it now plays “a central role in what we do in the healthcare industry.” He’s also crystal clear on what he expects from alliance executives—and what he doesn’t want. I talked to several veteran chief alliance officers who described it as perhaps the best presentation they’ve heard at an ASAP conference, and as I’m writing this blog during the closing session of the conference, attendees are still exclaiming the value of this session for them. 

Check out our earlier coverage of his plenary talk as well as my colleague Cynthia B. Hanson’s strikingly thoughtful Q&A blog post with Thiroloix in August. And here are more nuggets of insight Thiroloix offered during his session: 

  • Align with C-suite processes. “Use the C-suite’s governance [process]. If you can fit your into the normal C-suite governance agenda, it’s better. Be part of the monthly meeting, versus scheduling an alliance meeting the C-suite.”
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat. “Alliances are complex. The rest of my life is also, so don’t expect me to memorize, remind me again, even if it feels incredibly basic. I will stop you if I don’t need more information.”
  • Be specific and don’t assume knowledge. “Whenever you talk about a partner, be ultra-specific. When [my alliance manger] Fabienne Pioch-Laval talks to me about a partner, I don’t hear the first sentence. I’m thinking about, ‘this is the one with the product coming out 2021.’ You have the full picture, but I don’t. Don’t assume that [senior executives] know the specifics. Keep telling me what, why, what for, and how.” 
  • No surprises. “Your role is to anticipate, to manage changes that come from the outside, and from the partner, which is perceived to be outside the company. But make sure [communicating these changes] doesn’t happen in groups. Make sure executive team members know in advance that this is coming up—working the meeting before it happens. The best way to do that is to get their teams to understand, make their teams look good, make sure they convey to their bosses [the information they need]. Help them help you—the C-suite can create interpersonal goodwill.”
  • Give timely support that builds partner. “There are a couple of companies where I have to make myself visit, but if something goes wrong, I don’t know how much I would want to fix it” because of the poor nature of the relationship. “And there are companies that even if something goes wrong, I still want to work with them. Try to find opportunities for senior executives to be in a positive relationship with each other. Make sure your CEO or head of R&D makes that phone call of congratulations for your partner’s success. Write me that message that I can email onto the partner—so that when there’s a bit of turmoil they’ll do the same,” and have the same goodwill towards your company.
  • Don’t bring the CEO your gripes about BD. “One thing that I really don’t want to do is to sort out issues between business development and alliance management. One of the functions where you can step on toes is business development. But you guys can work it out. I don’t want to be involved—I’m just being honest with you.” 
  • Bring your partnering magic to C-suite executives’ teams. “At the end of the day, it’s a function, it’s a set of technical skills, a 360-degree understanding, but there’s an art, an element of humanity, interpersonal dynamics, an element of human magic. I want to see you spending a lot more time with the teams of the C-suite members, so they are informed by their teams. Collaborating in governance just works better naturally—so this is really the key message.”

Tags:  alliance manager  business development  CEO  chief alliance officers  C-suite  executives  Mayoly Spindler  partner  R&D  Stéphane Thiroloix 

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The Importance of Keeping a Steady Hand on the Wheel and Stepping up the Pace When Managing Acquired Alliances

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Updated: Saturday, August 27, 2016

“How does the alliance manager’s responsibilities change when a company and its alliances are acquired?” That was the key question participants plumbed in the fast-paced session “Navigating the Speed Bumps and Driving Decisions: A Roadmap for Integrating Acquired Alliances” by Katherine Kendrick, CA-AM, director of alliance management at Elanco, Eli Lilly and Company. The session was part of the programming at the 2016 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Eco­system,” held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland in the March. Kendrick also reprised her presentation for her April 14 ASAP Netcast webinar.

 

“Each alliance you acquire travels at different speeds,” Kendrick emphasized early on, adding that speed bumps are inevitable and likely will require quick moves with a firm hand on the wheel. When companies are purchased, the alliance manager needs to very specifically address a range of new partnering challenges, including:

 

·         Questionable alliance health status

·         Contract obligations not met by the acquired company

·         Lagging development or progress

·         Misaligned expectations

·         Disparity of information

·         Competitive challenges

·         Demotivation

·         CRO/CMO assignability of contracts

 

Central to a smooth transition is ordering the process of investigation, inquiry, and engagement with the main stakeholders, said Kendrick, who has considerable alliance management experience and more than 15 years of pharmaceutical experience with an emerging market expertise. After working to ensure the delivery of diabetes pharmaceutical and device development partnerships and commercial relationships, she assumed a leadership role in animal health at Elanco in 2015 as director of alliance management for research and development managing the strategic alliance portfolio of external innovation and mergers and acquisitions.

 

The process involves orchestrating clear communication between partners to build alliances teams, establish governance, and drive value; implementing divestiture and termination decisions that are respectful of the partners and individuals; addressing integration challenges that can cause blips in reporting and cash flow, she explained while swiftly flipping through her deck.

 

One way to coordinate that kind of complexity is to think of yourself as a smartphone app, she advised. Be an efficient technological program capable of:

·         Simplicity of interface with your senior leadership

·         Single point of contact for multiple aspects of relationships

·         Provision of integrated solutions

·         Ability to managing multiple tasks

 

Keep in mind, however, that after studying the new map that comes with your acquired alliance, you may conclude that it’s better to terminate, renegotiate, or sublicense.

 

ASAP organizes monthly webinars that are free for ASAP members, but available to non-members for a fee. Click here more information on ASAP webinars like Kendrick’s, or just register for ASAP’s September webinar that will discuss ‘Executing in the Field: The Key to a Sustainable’.

 

For three days of more insightful presentations on topics of critical interest to partnering professionals in life sciences and healthcare, don’t miss the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference.

Tags:  alliance health status  alliance managers  ASAP netcast webinars  Elanco  governance  Katherine Kendrick  partnerships  R&D  renegotiate  senior leadership  stakeholders  sublicense  sustainable  terminate 

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How to Partner for Open Innovation: A Sneak Preview of John Bell’s Forthcoming ‘ASAP Quick Take’ at the 2016 ASAP Global Alliance Summit

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, February 11, 2016

Addressing various facets of “partnering everywhere” in our rapidly evolving world, four experts are slated to present “ASAP Quick Takes” (patterned on the “TED Talks” format) at the ASAP Global Alliance Summit. This year’s summit is organized around the theme “Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Ecosystem,” and will be held just outside the US capital at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland.  

Among the executives in the ASAP Quick Takes line-up is John Bell, PhD, head of external innovation at Johnson & Johnson Consumer, who will present the talk “Creating Partnering Opportunities through Open Innovation.” Bell brings distinctive credentials: He has worked as head of strategy & new business at Philips Research, head of strategic alliances at Philips, strategy consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and as an assistant professor. Despite his busy schedule and prominent daytime job, he somehow also carves out the time to teach alliance strategy at the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands. During a recent interview, I asked Bell for some insights on his upcoming ASAP presentation. 

How has Johnson & Johnson led the way in corporate alliance management through structuring and outreach? 

In the Consumer division, we work closely with start-ups and strategic suppliers. For instance, with some of our strategic suppliers, we developed a way of working that activates the innovation capabilities of these partners to come up with innovative solutions. In the past, we typically approached suppliers with the question to make a specific product at a specific price point. Today, we share with a select group of partners what kind of consumer needs we aim to solve. Their R&D and our Johnson & Johnson R&D people then start to co-create novel solutions. 

How does your hands-on workshop help alliance managers sharpen their skills and expertise to broaden alliance activities in their organization? 

By sharing some of our learnings and providing insights into the steps we have taken and are still making, we believe that alliance managers can learn what is relevant to their own organization. 

What are some of the ways Johnson and Johnson supports strategic development to capture valuable market and competitive insights? 

Johnson & Johnson has established so-called Innovation Centers in the heart of eco-systems around the globe: San Francisco, Boston, Shanghai, and London. In those Innovation Centers, there are 25 to 30 business developers, dealmakers, alliance managers, and legal and financial people. They focus on identifying and fostering innovation across the pharmaceutical, medical devices, and consumer ecosystem, and invest in early transformational “ideas” and start-ups. These innovation centers act as a first touch-point to the market and competitive developments. 

How does Johnson & Johnson lead the way in effectively managing alliances and establishing trust and stability in partnerships for maximum profitability? 

Maximizing profitability is not per se the main motivation for our partnerships. In many instances, co-creating innovative solutions is the main objective of our partnerships. We have dedicated alliance managers in place who manage the partnerships typically from inception until integration into our business. On top of that, we typically develop a network of multi-level relationships with our partners to strengthen the ties and understanding between Johnson & Johnson and our partners. One of our ambitions is to become the partner of choice, which implies that we value trust, openness, and win-win.

Tags:  allainces  alliance strategy  John Bell PhD  Johnson & Johnson Consumer  medical devices  partnerships  pharmaceutical  Philips  PwC  R&D  start-ups  University of Tilburg 

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