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‘Harnessing More Brainpower’ Through New Drug Discovery Partnering Models—and Problem Solving an Industry Challenge (Part Two)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, October 2, 2017
Updated: Saturday, September 30, 2017

Swati Prasad, senior manager of business development and scientific alliances at Charles River Laboratories (CRL) in Wilmington, Mass., puts it succinctly: “When you harness brainpower, new ideas emerge.” Prasad participated in “Strategic Perspectives on Emerging Alliance Drug Discovery Models,” a dynamic panel discussion at the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference. The panelists addressed the persistent challenges the drug discovery industry faces due to costly regulatory, business, and scientific limitations. Prasad manages drug discovery alliances and strategic partnerships at CRL to increase revenues, penetrate markets, and strengthen discovery and innovation.

Joining her were Mary Lou Bell of Nimbus Therapeutics and Charles McOsker of BioMotiv to discuss how alliance managers are adapting partnering models to address the persistent problem of early drug development gaps. Both companies are collaborating with CRL in novel ways to leverage innovative partnership opportunities. The panel plumbed the question: “How can alliance managers take the lead and design strategies for drug discovery/development models to leverage new players, such as non-traditional VCs, CROs/CMOs, and patient advocacy groups?”

Following is Part Two of ASAP Media’s coverage of the ASAP BioPharma Conference panel discussion exploring “Strategic Perspectives on Emerging Alliance Drug Discovery Models.”

Mary Lou: Nimbus launched a strategic partnership with CRL with a three-to-five years window that includes R&D and hopefully goes on to Phase 2, which is where the biggest challenges are—proving that that target is worthy of moving forward. We have worked for years with CRL but now are actually working with them as a drug development partner rather than customer/CRO [clinical research organization]. This alliance is possible because CRL, as well as others, has really reinvented itself over the last couple of years. They reinvented their range of services and also repositioned themselves much more not just as a drug development partner for companies like BioMotiv and Nimbus, but also as an emerging drug developer itself. That ongoing transformation made this strategic partnership possible. We are basically harnessing more brainpower, but we are doing it by working with one source rather than many, and it’s very much a partnership. It’s not the old model of “You do what we want, but we are managing you as one of our vendors.” So we’re basically one-stop shopping, but it’s not the shopping part that matters, it’s the integration. What’s really new about this is internal integration within CRL, and then that interface. As CRL uses this partnership with us to learn more about how it integrates and manages itself in the context of drug management, it is also figuring out drug development. So what we’ve done is pull together a fully engaged, focused, seamless team that is accountable for making this program happen. It’s not task- or service-oriented. It’s what you would see in a truly balanced alliance, where both companies bring complementary elements to the table.

Charles: BioMotiv is going on a year-and-a-half relationship with CRL. There was a lot of initial work that needs to be done in establishing communication pathways. Some has been within the elements of CRL. We’ve had the interesting experience of having done work with CROs acquired by CRL. It has been interesting to see the culture changes now that we are working with them as part of Charles River as we work on a portfolio of projects.

Mary Lou: Communication and frankness is critical. CRL once complained, “You are managing our chemistry like we are a ‘third-world’ CRO.” It was somewhat true, and it was all about us telling them what to do. So both sides have to learn how to behave differently to get the best benefit. You can’t flip a switch. The integrated project team is really the one guiding this program forward. We are the manager, but we look to CRL to be a full-fledged partner. It’s a very different flavor than most project management teams. And we have a joint steering committee overseeing. Both companies benefit from the diverse input and problem solving. Learning to work, think, [and communicate] in new ways will become more and more seamless so that when we introduce the new program, it will be like working in one company.

Charles: It really does require a more two-way trustful relationship in terms of the way you think of working with a CRO.

Swati: How many of you in the audience are using a system similar to what has been presented today? [No hands go up in the audience.] How many are working with a CRO like this? [One hand goes up.] How many of you think one of these organizational alliance models might have value to your organization? [More than a half-dozen hands go up.]  

For more on this topic, see ASAP Media’s interview in August with Swati Prasad on Charles River Laboratories and filling the drug discovery gap at click on this link to a recent MASS BIO blog.

Tags:  alliance managers  alliances  BioMotiv  Charles McOsker  Charles River Laboratories  development models  Drug Discovery  Mary Lou Bell  Nimbus Therapeutics  small biotech  strategic partnerships  Swati Prasad 

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‘Harnessing More Brainpower’ Through New Drug Discovery Partnering Models—and Problem Solving an Industry Challenge (Part One)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Friday, September 22, 2017

“When you harness brainpower, new ideas emerge,” Swati Prasad succinctly stated during the panel discussion “Strategic Perspectives on Emerging Alliance Drug Discovery Models” at the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference “Accelerating Life Science Collaborations: Better Partnering, Better Outcomes” at the Royal Sonesta Boston, Cambridge, Mass. USA. The senior manager of business development and scientific alliances at Charles River Laboratories (CRL) in Wilmington, Mass., was a participant in a dynamic panel discussion on the persistent challenges the drug discovery industry faces due to costly regulatory, business, and scientific limitations. Prasad manages drug discovery alliances and strategic partnerships at CRL to increase revenues, penetrate markets, and strengthen discovery and innovation.

Joining her were Mary Lou Bell of Nimbus Therapeutics and Charles McOsker of BioMotiv to discuss how alliance managers are adapting partnering models to address the persistent problem of early drug development gaps. Both companies are collaborating with CRL in novel ways to leverage innovative partnership opportunities. The panel plumbed the question: “How can alliance managers take the lead and design strategies for drug discovery/development models to leverage new players, such as non-traditional VCs, CROs/CMOs, and patient advocacy groups?”

Following is Part One of ASAP Media’s coverage of this panel discussion.

Mary Lou: We are about six months into our relationship with CRL. It has been fun on both sides to help individual members of the team think in new ways. We have a joint project team, biology, and chemistry. We are not just trying to have integration across CRL but across our two companies that lets us help CRL integrate their new acquisitions. We know how hard it is to assimilate. Nimbus is a small biotech. The IP [intellectual property] are the family jewels for us. We have a carefully structured strategic partnership, and what we have done is an arrangement that is very milestone-driven and has extra awards for CRL while also benefitting Nimbus. We are sharing the success and failure while also knowing that lots of programs fail.

Charles: More often than not, drug discovery at this stage fails because it’s a highly risky business. The emerging trend is to solve the problem with nontraditional accelerators that can commit resources. It’s very difficult to get continued research funding in this industry. It’s hard to get seed money because pharma won’t look at you. So we partner very early with academic PIs [principal investigators]. These are not people handing something over and then going away. They are partners. We put our arms around that PI, and we hold them close.  What you license in the end is likely to be patents, chemical matter, etc., but what really sells to a partner is a deep understanding of the biology. Having the PI and founder fully engaged is critical. The primary need is to have a well-validated target.

There’s more to come in Part Two of ASAP Media’s coverage of the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference panel discussion exploring “Strategic Perspectives on Emerging Alliance Drug Discovery Models.”

Tags:  alliance managers  BioMotiv  Charles McOsker  Charles River Laboratories  Drug Discovery  Mary Lou Bell  Nimbus Therapeutics  small biotech  strategic partnerships  Swati Prasad 

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Learning How to Choose the Best Options and Moves When Negotiating the Alliance Management Playing Field

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, September 14, 2017

Assessing strategic options is at the heart of alliance management practice, especially in the negotiation processes. Game theory is the science of strategic decision-making, helping to streamline areas such as internal alignment meetings, steering committees, and alliance sub-committees. A new game theory workshop debuted front-and-center at the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference “Accelerating Life Science Collaborations: Better Partnering, Better Outcomes” at the Royal Sonesta Boston, Cambridge, Mass. on Sept. 13. “Strategic Decision Making & Negotiations: Learnings from Game Theory and AM Practice,” facilitated by Harm-Jan Borgeld, CSAP, and head of alliance management for Merck KGaA, and Stefanie Schubert, professor of economics at SRH University Heidelberg, guided participants through the playing field of game theory, providing insights on the speed and quality of decision-making practices. I spoke with the facilitators after the workshop about this fascinating topic and the practical applications for game theory.

 Stefanie: Game theory can be applied to any kind of situation. The basic idea of game theory is that you try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and figure out what they will do before you make your own decision. It helps you find the optimal decision. It requires that you think about the player—the people who have to make a decision—possible strategies, and assess possible outcomes.

Harm-Jan: Game theory helps you understand how people think. In our workshop, we used game theory to enhance the decision-making, negotiating, and influencing skills of the alliance manager. It also teaches how to prepare for a negotiation and facilitates discussions on out-of-the-box thinking.

Stefanie: Influencing benefits from creativity. There are plenty of uncreative ways to influence, such as signing a contract or delegating. But why not be creative? The workshop uses lots of real-life cases, games, and exercises. For example, we use a simple negotiation game where two participants share a real cake. One player divides the cake; the other accepts or does not accept the division. If it’s a cake, it’s common to split it down the middle. But if it’s money, a company will not do it. Game theory takes the position that everyone loves the cake and wants the biggest piece, and it is strategic to offer only a small piece.  We use this game to discuss how to leverage negotiation power and discuss alternatives for optimal decisions.

Harm-Jan:  The workshop is practical and uses video clips and exercises as teaching tools.  We want participants to be able to use what they learn tomorrow. The cake actually is an analogy for dividing [assets]. It helps you understand how the other person makes decisions and prepares for disagreements. We also talked about how to build trust. There are certain ways to establish trust. One way is to always do what you say: Be predictable, engaged, and treat opponents as equals, and not engage senior management without agreeing beforehand. Most trust is created [and maintained] if not broken.

Stefanie:  When applying game theory, you need to simplify. It’s an analytical framework: If you have to make a decision, the outcome depends on the action of someone else. Central to game theory is the question: What is optimal for me to do if the outcome depends on the other party’s action? And it works in every culture or environment. 

Tags:  alliance management  alliance manager  alliance managers  decision-making  decision-making practices  engage  Game theory  Harm-Jan Borgeld  influencing skills  Merck KGaA  negotiating  outcomes  SRH University Heidelberg  Stefanie Schubert  strategies 

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ASAP Summit Spotlight Leadership Forum Highlights Exceptional Contributions: Part 1—Inspiring a Movement for Change Within Your Company

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Every day, alliance managers work diligently to advance concepts, innovations, or products for the marketplace: self-driving cars to reduce road hazards and deaths; new drugs to promote healing and lessen suffering; technological breakthroughs to minimize energy use and reduce global warming. ASAP believes these managers deserve to be highlighted for their remarkable accomplishments, which is why the association held a Summit Spotlight Leadership Forum Q&A Panel session last March at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” Feb. 28-March 2, held in San Diego, San Diego, Calif. The session was moderated by John W. DeWitt, CEO of JW DeWitt Business Communications and publisher and editor of ASAP Media and Strategic Alliance Magazine. Highlighted on the podium for their exceptional company contributions were Celine Schillinger of Sanofi Pasteur; Chris Haskell of Bayer; Maria Olson of NetApp; and Kevin Hickey of BeyondTrust. In Part 1 of this three part series, DeWitt directs the first question to Schillinger, who spearheaded a movement at Sanofi Pasteur that led to cultural changes and a progressive alliance with The Synergist. The win-win partnership also led to receipt of the ASAP Alliances for Social Responsibility Alliance Excellence Award for “Break Dengue.”

Celine, how did you get the inspiration to drive a people’s movement within your company?

Celine: It started with feelings we often don’t talk about in the workplace, such as anger and frustration. That can serve as an impulse to push you to the next level. It can serve to push and challenge the status quo. The first people’s movement started by chance—it was to foster diversity. I had such wonderful talented people around me, and that lack of diversity was affecting the people and the company itself. I thought, “I have got to do something, even if it’s just a small step. If I just complain, it will not go anywhere.” I realized I catalyzed something that no one was addressing. It came as a big surprise—I never thought something like that would happen. It changed my life and career, and I am very grateful for the company that enabled me to do that. It wasn’t easy for them or for me. I know I’ve been a pain in the neck—sometimes we are human, we don’t like to change things that seem to be working. But it’s our role to push and to trigger change. If we don’t do it, no one will do it.

How did you get executive buy in?

Celine: It doesn’t happen overnight, for sure. You have got to focus on your purpose and the ways to reach your purpose. When you start, you don’t have a budget or department, but connections have a value. Look where there are pockets of energy, and have deep conversations about your purpose. If you have deep connections that build up, you become a force. Mastering communications in your marketing will make you unavoidable to leadership. We also did things under the radar. Seek validation. Build connections. The company then will begin to see you as an opportunity. The first reaction was mockery about our being a feminist group. But when we got an award for the company, and then another, they realized we were an opportunity for them to shine. We said: “Welcome. We will be much stronger with you.” And don’t forget to work on yourself.  Be inclusive, be inclusive all the time.

Chris: Your point about having a vision [is valuable]—you can then tailor it to your customer. The [vision] incubator is also a response to frustration. In our case, we went from project manager to partnering. It was so frustrating because the home office couldn’t see the value. We tried to show them that this [vision] they didn’t act on can become valuable. That’s exactly what they don’t want to hear. So you need to create a model with autonomy and control. Create buy in for management in this case so they can see the long-term vision. A CEO at the time gave official buy in. He said, “I don’t know what will come of this. Just don’t hurt the little companies.” I will close with the fact that we had a value proposal that was a four-year plan that highlighted to the community that didn’t know us that we were of value. What we found is that the opposition eventually came back with opportunities to expand this.

Maria: You have to be connected and passionate for your cause. Executives need to know how you believe. Then you have to show them how to get there. That’s when they get confident. If you really want to do a big partnership or alliance, you need to believe in it because, if you don’t, no one else will.

ASAP Media’s coverage of the Summit Spotlight Leadership Forum Q&A continues in Part 2. 

Tags:  alliance  alliance managers  Bayer  Celine Schillinger  Chris Haskell  communications  Maria Olson  NetApp  partnering  partnership  Sanofi Pasteur  win-win partnerships 

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NetApp’s Trackable System Garners Best Practice Accolades at ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards Ceremony: A Q&A with Ron Long, CSAP

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, April 3, 2017
Updated: Friday, March 31, 2017

Finding new ways to implement alliance management tools and processes is valuable for the entire ASAP community because it sets a new standard for best practiceswhether in the area of measurement, communications, conflict resolution, training, or other applications. This year the Innovative Best Alliance Practice Award was presented to NetApp at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” Feb. 28–March 2, at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, San Diego, California. This award highlights how NetApp has strived for exemplary partnering tools and practices. While many companies still try to manage partnering processes through spreadsheets, NetApp invested in technology and governance with stringent trackable processes that produce measurable results for its alliance co-selling program. The program assists NetApp and partner representatives proactively involved in account mapping, account planning, and pipeline management in the most difficult aspects of go-to-market alliances. The system also provides detailed reports on joint co-selling activities. I spoke with Ron Long, alliance director, who explained the progressive change undertaken that now acts as a valuable model for other companies tracking multi-alliance details.

What challenge were you problem-solving?
We were problem-solving the lack of ability to effectively manage and measure multi-alliance sales engagements. The challenge had to do with multiple partners pursing the same sale and having an impact when closing the deal.  The question was, “How does a system that is originated toward single-product sales measure revenue across several different companies?” We also wanted to improve the ability of teams to collaborate across multiple companies.

Describe some of the benefits of the new trackable system?
We were able to track investments and results, and that resulted in executive alliance growth. We also were able to track results for paying out commissions to salespeople. It was the impetus for growth and investment. When we could track those alliance partners, we had tangible data we could take to management and ask for investments for growth. Revenues have clearly improved through measurement and collaboration. We also use the system to set up sales pursuits to get partners to collaborate. This type of a problem is across multiple alliances, not just technology. Because it’s a problem that exists across multiple industries, it’s applicable outside the tech industry.

How did the new system evolve?
Two years ago, we started with some self-design, but we modified the sales tracking systems already in place with cloud technology, such as Salesforce.com. It’s adaptable because it’s a cloud-based service, and you can link in different information sources in the cloud. It’s easier to link that in than to do an in-house modification system. For governance, we do quarterly APRs, and each of the alliance leads added tracking of their progress, pipeline, revenue, investments, and training to ensure that what we’re doing plan-wise meets with results.

What ASAP tools and practices were useful when designing the system?
The greatest benefit came from ASAP Summit sessions that had to do with the overall management of multi-alliances. Also, we used several ASAP best practices as guideposts.

Tags:  alliance management  Alliance Managers  collaboration  governance  innovation  Innovative Best Alliance Practice Award  multi-alliances  multiple alliances  NetApp  partners  Ron Long 

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