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External Collaboration for Innovation: Bayer’s Key Leadership Role in Alliance Management

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, September 13, 2017

External collaboration for innovation has become a red-hot topic in the pharmaceutical industryand a critical practice for success. It was also the central topic during the leadership forum at the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference, “Accelerating Life Science Collaborations: Better Partnering, Better Outcomes,” Sept. 13-15 at the Royal Sonesta Boston, Cambridge, Mass. Chandra Ramanathan, Ph.D, vice president & head of the East Coast Innovation Center at Bayer, kicked off the discussion with an overview of Bayer’s approach.  

Call it “East meets West.” Ramanathan’s discussion of building innovative product portfolios through external crowd sourcing and other collaboration approaches occurred on the heels of a dynamic leadership spotlight talk last spring at the ASAP Global Alliance Summit in San Diego, California, “Accelerating Innovation: Partnering Early and Often in the New Era of Cooperation,” led by Chris Haskellhead of the West Coast Innovation Center at Bayer, tucked away in San Francisco’s Mission Bay—who is responsible for Bayer’s CoLaboratory. Following is a recap of ASAP Media’s conversation with Haskell and coverage of his conference session in the spring.

Bayer’s West Coast CoLaborator space is a subdivision of the German healthcare company, which serves as an incubator for fledgling startups working on promising biotech projects. Haskell explained the impetus for Bayer’s focus on external collaboration: Pharma was taking a hard look at its business models, the challenges with the pace of innovation, and how to adapt to and work with the outside world.  “The pharma industry is a failure business. We have to put lots of drugs out to get one that gets to market,” Haskell notes. “We’re spending $2.6 billion per drug to get to marketthat’s an imbalance you sometimes can’t make up with a blockbuster,” he added.

Bayer wanted to harness the advantages of the life sciences ecosystem in Mission Bay, San Francisco, through local collaborations in early-stage research. So in 2012, it opened the CoLaborator, an incubator lab space located at Bayer’s US Innovation Center, which houses the US Science Huba scientific team actively identifying partnerships with academic and biotech researchers. The CoLaborator includes an open lab layout that is designed for a quick start of research activities. The 6,000 square foot lab fosters collaboration among companies who are emerging innovative life science firms. Bayer often lends support through financing some of the project and/or offering access to the expertise of their staff.

“Pharma companies haven’t done great with incubators—it’s hard to innovate in a short length of time. … But now there are 100 startups within 10 minute walk of my office that weren’t there 10 years ago—that’s thanks to incubators,” he said. “The CoLaborator structure isn’t so much experimentation. If it works, everybody wins. If doesn’t, you can’t sell it anywhere else.”

Their partners are selected because their innovations have the potential to be aligned with Bayer internal projects.  But it’s not a requirement that the work of these life science companies matches Bayer’s needs. The CoLaborator tenants are highly independent. The model relies on the flexibility of “strategic leasing,” allowing Bayer to work with these emerging companies that may not be immediate partners. At the same time, there is potential to build further partnership agreements that would share risks and rewards for both partners. Bayer looks for technologies or therapeutics that could have a major impact on its ability to improve the research process. “We consider the future growth and potential of these companies to see how our needs and the product will link together. Within the CoLaborator, the standard lease is two years, but we do not have a fixed timeline," he added.

Early innovators—it’s different than later-stage licensing. Developing trust and the tools you use are different, he then explained. “One thing we did to improve trust was to put people where the partners are—this is the structure of our global innovation and alliances group. We created innovation centers in five different regions to complement the core development in Germany,” he added.

“We hear a lot about trust—the pharma company is suffering a bit of a trust crisis” and politicians and others are certainly beating the drum against big pharma, he noted.  “You really have to work on this well before the deal comes into play and ask, ‘What does an innovator want, and what can you do to help them build trust’” to achieve that goal? He then provided several key suggestions to establish this foundation:

  • When working with smaller partners, be clear what you can’t do, and why you need them.
  • Acknowledge the speed differential when you are moving at different speeds.
  • Create a clear joint definition of success, which is often an iterative process, and then de-risk the process.
  • Have a local interpreter when cultures and processes merge.
  • Run joint test projectswhen they crash and burn, view it not as failure but a   learning opportunity.

“One of the challenges alliance managers have in early innovation partnering is the belief that it’s “not in my job description,” he concluded. “Trust yourself, and keep sticking with it because you will have wins in the end. Know who to go to, de-risk, and build a story. Finally, simple contracts and dialogue risk info leaks. That could happen. This is where trust comes in. … Stay in touch, create support letters for grants, make your network their network. This is not 2007. Get over it. They will come to you first if you’ve built that trust. What has Bayer created? Successive leadership is driving this.”

Stay tuned for more coverage of this topic from the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference.

Tags:  Bayer  Chandra Ramanathan  Chris Haskell  CoLaboratory  Innovation  Leadership  network  pharma  startups  strategic leasing 

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ASAP Summit Spotlight Leadership Forum Highlights Exceptional Contributions: Part 3—From Great Platforms to Epiphanies

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, August 17, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The following is a continuation from Part 2 of the ASAP Summit Spotlight Leadership Forum Q&A Panel session, which took place last March at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” held in San Diego, Calif. 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. 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.  After DeWitt finished his questions, the audience jumped in with their own, one of which is included at the end of this post. 

Describe the greatest epiphany of your career, something that changed your worldview and made you a better executive or leader.

Maria: This was definitely an epiphany: I started working in the supply chain and felt like I was always in the trunk and someone else was driving. I wanted to get in the car. I had more value to give. I then tried product management and was lucky to work for a small division in telecom. I felt like a high tech janitor. And when you try to do everything, you don’t really do anything right to some degree. But in the end, that was all great training ground. My most challenging job, the one I didn’t like the most, was the most beneficial.

Chris: When you do the drug discovery business, 20 to 30 new drugs are approved each year. The more I stepped back, the more I realized my passion was about connecting and empowering rather than being an adventurer and discoverer. I began looking for ways to impact the company, writing strategies on how to create this hub, referring to how to move things along. And advancing the technology to beat cancer I get such joy out of being part of that.

Kevin: I worked for IBM and became one of the glorified gophers for the chairman’s office. Years later, I was sitting in a boardroom seeing a patient system that was broken. It was just so bad. It was a great and fabulous company, but at that point, I realized I wanted to go somewhere smaller.

Maria, FlexPod is a platform. Solutions die very quickly. You created a platform that was able to evolve, and you won an ASAP award several years ago because you took the time to get it right.

Maria: At NetApp, we do it similarly to what Kevin has described [see Part 2 of this blog series]. We step back, ask “what is the value we are delivering,” and hold ourselves to a higher level of thinking.

Celine: I would advocate to go faster and refrain from overthinking. In pharma, every step becomes huge and complicated. It’s as if it feeds itself with its own complexity. We spend more time building than actually doing it. It’s important to realize when perfection is needed, and when it is not.

Audience question from Luna of Belgium: How do you organize this? I understand that purpose, mastery, and a sense of perfection need to be everywhere. But do you create mastery throughout the organization, or do you create the silo for really good professionals? What is the tradeoff between mastery and autonomy? The silo is so natural for pharma.

Chris: Bayer went through a transformation of its alliance structure years ago. There are other parts of the organization in alliance management, and now we are starting to develop best practices and work with them. There are different frameworks within the organization. We’ve also started talking about rolling out trainings that we think are valuable for this transformation.

Maria: I work for companies where alliances are spread out, corporate strategic alliances are all over the map. HP brought the question to a leadership council and surveyed top strategic alliances. At the end of the day, [leadership recognized that] we need to stop having four to five people calling us from your company, and the decision they made was to pick new patterns from a management standpoint. It’s very different to manage everything strategically.

Kevin: It shouldn’t just be executives making decisions. You want to find the right people who have a great viewpoint, such as a systems engineer, and you pull them in. You need to find the knowledge workers to help your collaboration. You have to find the right people. Executives are not looking at all of the details every day.

Celine: There’s often a long debate in companies about quality belonging to the quality department. Actually, quality belongs to everyone who wants to own it. Co-create the purpose. It’s attractive to be co-owned. Anyone who feels they can contribute to the way we work is welcome. Boundaries become less important. What is important is how motivated and connected people are in the organization. Instead of appointing teams, we called for volunteers and asked why they wanted to lead the change initiative. We ended up with a team of 25. The jury, which is made up of half volunteers and half leaders, needed to focus on emotional intelligence and a willingness to help. It’s a peer-to-peer network. People want to make a difference. When you tap into this pool, you achieve miracles.

This concludes ASAP Media’s three-blog series covering the Spotlight Leadership Forum Q&A. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 here.  http://membersstrategicalliances.site-ym.com/blogpost/1143942/ASAP-Blog

Tags:  alliances  Bayer  BeyondTrust  Celine Schillinger  Chris Haskell  frameworks  Kevin Hickey  Maria Olson  NetApp  network  product management  Sanofi Pasteur  strategic alliances 

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On the Cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, How Agile is Your Alliance?

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2017

Being brittle during a time of industry change can break a fragile allianceand even a business. Agility is key to surviving disruption, especially when a major shift is taking place to a new industrial age. Find out how your company can adapt and weather the change at the session “Agile Alliances: Catalyst for the Next Industrial Age,” as part of the 2017 Global Alliance Summit, “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” held Feb. 28-March 2 at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, San Diego, Calif. USA. The session will be moderated by Ann E. Trampas, CSAP, of the University of Illinois—Chicago, with panelists Anthony DeSpirito, CSAP, Schneider Electrics; Gaye Clemson, Globalinkage Consulting; Michael Young, Klick Health; Philip Sack, CSAP, Asia Collaborative Business Community. Sack provided these insights into the session during a recent interview.

How should companies prepare for the fourth industrial revolution with the increase in multi-partnering?

If we accept that the external drivers of global change are going to continue challenging organizationsslow economic growth, digital disruption, globalization, geopolitical uncertainty, speed of change, new nimble competitors, etc.then there is great pressure on organizations to become more agile, innovate, and continually adapt and change. However, this requires additional strategic thinking from previous approaches of value-chain efficiencies, market regulations (barriers to entry), improving costs management, and competitive positioning (differentiation). Success now requires greater thinking about how to continue driving new innovations, customer centricity (creating value), enhancing collaboration (external, internal), and new or adjacent market positions while simultaneously improving performance. That is no mean feat!

Why is it essential for partnerships to become more agilefaster, lighter, more flexible?

There is an increasing appetite for organizations to engage in more strategic collaboration and alliance partnerships, in part driven by the global changes affecting many organizations. Managed effectively, with appropriate support and investment, these relationships assist organizations to enhance their agility, market responsiveness, and new innovation efforts. Many organizations are looking at their strategic partners and networks of partners as a faster way of achieving these objectives rather than typical M&A (buying), or organic internal development (building). This “need to speed” implies that new collaborations and alliances focus on quickly assembling and disassembling around customer/market requirements, delivering rapid prototyping and development capabilities, and operating comfortably within complex and ambiguous situations.

How can alliance managers make their collaborations more agile and successful?

A good place to start would be to review existing collaborations and strategic alliances and how they support achieving these objectives, i.e., new innovations, co-creation capability, improving customer centricity, new products and service solutions, and incremental go-to-market approaches. This open dialogue provides an opportunity to review the original focus and strategic intent of the alliance, what is now required, and where the next evolution of the relationship needs to take place. However creating new alliance relationships that support these new strategic imperatives will involve taking a slightly different approach. Given that these strategic imperatives address significant challenges facing the organization, a firm-wide approach is required for success. The alliance management function has a natural orientation towards strategy, firm-wide thinking, facilitation, collaboration, and ecosystem orchestration. Hence, it should be in the perfect position to lead efforts to create cross-functional teams that would focus on creating, supporting, and delivering to these imperatives. These teams would include members from executive, strategy, research and development, marketing, and human resources and have a strong focus on entrepreneurial action and creation—in effect, a start-up way of thinking within the organization.

 
Is there anything specific to Asia that you think readers might want to know to improve their alliances with Asian companies?

Similar large-scale issues and challenges are being addressed by organizations across Asia as they are worldwide. Engaging within this area is quite exciting and challenging and should be done in a considered and measured approach. There certainly is a strong emphasis on relationships, a natural entrepreneurial spirit, and orientation to deal making. This requires addressing opportunities and making alliances aware of the various local and cultural contexts. This often takes quite some time to evolve. The key message is to do some research, find some local support, and be patient.

Tags:  alliance  alliance partnerships  Ann E. Trampas  Anthony DeSpirito  collaborations  cross-functional teams  cultural  ecosystem orchestration  Gaye Clemson  innovation  Michael Young  network  partners  Philip Sack 

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New ASAP Corporate Member Bridge Partners Helps Industries Connect for More Successful Partnering

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, December 20, 2016

This is one in a series of blog posts welcoming seven new corporate members into the ASAP fold. Bridge Partners practices “the art and science of business transformation” by helping customers address challenges, adapt to change, empower teams, and win in the marketplace. Channel transformation is one of the most crucial challenges enterprises need to address, says Chase Morgan, a partner at the company. Bridge Partners specializes in technology sector trends and provides deep, hands-on experience in alliance strategy, business planning, joint sales initiatives, enablement, and analytics. The company also provides specialized practices in the following areas: sales and channel; digital; operations and technology; people and change; product and solution marketing; program and project leadership. Morgan provided the following additional information about the new ASAP corporate member:

What inspired your team to join ASAP at the corporate level?
I was fortunate to be an ASAP member when I ran global ISV [independent software vendor] relationships at a large software company. Because we are serious about our channel transformation practice, it only made sense to join ASAP. It's the place to be to obtain valuable information on partnering practices.

How do you anticipate the ASAP corporate membership benefitting you and your team?
ASAP is the perfect gathering place to network and for consultants to exchange ideas with the most experienced alliance leadership in the world. We strive for continuous learning and are committed to providing service back to the communities with which we engage. We also look forward to developing new relationships with potential clients and partners and enhancing the ones we have through ASAP best practices.

 

Please share a bit of additional background information on your company. 
Since 2006, Bridge Partners has distinguished itself as a national leader in business consulting with offices in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin. The quality of our work is nationally recognized, and the company consistently ranks as one of the fastest growing businesses in America. It has made the Inc. 5000 list for five consecutive years. Our real-world experience and unwavering commitment to services means our client’s business successfully moves forward under a highly skilled management team.


What sets Bridge Partners apart from similar consulting companies?
 

Bridge Partners has a unique collaborative business model that connects local knowledge with a national presence. We deliver results for a wide range of companies: from Fortune 50 to start-up; technology and manufacturing to healthcare and transportation. Our consultants deliver insightful strategy, meticulous planning, and creative thinking.

Tags:  alliance  analytics  Bridge Partners  Channel transformation  Chase Morgan  collaborative business model  creative thinking  digital  enablement  joint sales initiatives  leadership  marketing  marketplace  network  planning  strategy 

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