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Change as a Constant: A Timely Session Planned for the ASAP BioPharma Conference

Posted By Geena B. Richards and Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Managing cycles of change is a session theme certain to unpack a profusion of thought-provoking ideas at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference “Creating Valuable and Innovative Partnerships by Driving the Alliance Mindset,” September 24-26 at the Hyatt Regency Boston in Boston, Massachusetts USA. When change is afoot, alliance managers must learn how to quickly shift, dance, adapt, and evolve to keep pace in today’s meteoric biopharma partnering climate. How do alliance managers maintain an alliance mindset while negotiating fast-paced strategic changes, organizational shifts, and the introduction of new leadership? In a buzz of constant change, how do teams continue to listen to future needs? These are just a few of the challenges that will be addressed in the session “Leading Alliance Management amidst Shifting Corporate Strategy,” moderated by Andy Eibling, CSAP, senior partner at Forty86 Consulting Group. He will bring four panelists together to tackle this topic along with audience participation: Nick Dunscombe, vice president of business & commercial development at Astellas Pharma Europe; Mojgan Hossein-Nia, vice president, head of the R&D partnership office, Takeda; Steve Twait, CSAP, vice president alliance and integration management at AstraZeneca; Lucinda Warren, vice president business development, neuroscience, Johnson & Johnson Innovation/Janssen Business Development. Eibling recently provided a brief preview of some of the focal points the panelists plan to discuss.

What were some of the themes of this session?
Three of the four panelists have undergone significant changes in their careers. The fourth went through big organizational shifts not too long ago and has had multiple jobs within the organization. As the moderator, I will let them paint their own portrait and tell their own story and then go into targeted questions. We will discuss a lot of the problems associated with transitioning and how the panelists have solved them. We plan to stay within the alliance mindset and talk about how to ensure that the right mindset is in place as your alliance goes through strategic changes or as you are introduced into a new organization. Those changes could be an organizational shift from centralized to decentralized or a move to organize by therapeutic area to business unit. Changes to alliances, such as asset divestitures, will be covered. We will talk a little bit about tools and technology and how they are being used to learn and share expertise. As we talk about changes in strategies, we will get into metrics and how you can leverage them to ensure that you stay true to the alliances and their objectives. What metrics are companies incorporating to measure not just alliance health, but collaboration value? Another topic is how to design a Center of Excellence. This group has lots of expertise and different types of experiences.

What are some of the biggest challenges pharma alliance managers face today when dealing with corporate restructuring, both internally and externally?
That’s one of the themes we will address. As your organization shifts, by business unit or a move to a decentralized structure, what impact does that have? How does that change impact how your team performs? Constant change is the norm today as corporations strive to deliver much-needed innovative therapies to patients, increase revenues, and provide shareholder value. All the change we are talking about could be interpreted as ecosystem change for lasting solutions. The answers need to be flexible, not only relating to what you are going through now but predicting the next change as the pendulum swings. When the bowl of asset divestment wanes, what’s next? And do you have the right skills for the coming changes? What are the trends in non-traditional partnerships? Is the alliance language the same in the collaboration lifecycle?

What about adapting to changes in company culture? Will you be discussing these types of changes as well?
We are going to make sure to incorporate questions from the audience, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that comes up as a question. Nick Dunscombe, one of the panelists, just moved from a British to a Japanese company with a strong presence in the United States. He moved from alliance management at AstraZeneca to Astellas. Corporate culture might be something he could address. How do you apply what you know, what you learn, and how you shift? He will discuss best practices and the differences in the companies. Also, how do you adapt and how do you do it differently? What things worked in the past?

For more discussion of critical biopharma partnering topics and conference coverage, check out the Q2 and Q3 2018 issues of Strategic Alliance Magazine and the August 2018 issue of eSAM Plus.

Tags:  2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference  alliance manager  alliance mindset  Andy Eibling  Astellas  AstraZeneca  corporate culture  corporate restructuring  Johnson & Johnson Innovation  Lucinda Warren  Mojgan Hossein-Nia  Nick Dunscombe  non-traditional partnerships  Steve Twait  strategic challenges  Takeda 

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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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