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The Rugged Biopharma/Tech Topography—What Alliance Managers Need to Know (Part 2)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2018

This extremely well-organized session, “Non-traditional Partnerships:  The Changing BioPharma Alliance Landscape and the Implications for the Alliance Professional and Alliance Management Community” held by Stu Kliman and Ben Siddall of Cambridge-based Vantage Partners, started off by outlining the multiple challenges the biopharma industry faces today, many of which are financial. One major solution to those challenges lies in building more relationships across the lifecycle, specifically with tech, the pair pointed out. They described the complex ecosystem of partnerships that are emerging today and how to determine if it’s right for your company to jump into the trend and/or continue to engage in multi-partner collaborations. Also on the docket was a discussion on effective partnering, which requires the capability to make good choices and the ability to execute.

All major biopharma companies are following the route of building a greater partnering base, they explained. Some of the deals are very large—in the hundreds of millions. Some involve very big players that are exploring and investing in the digital health tech space, such as Apple and IBM. Some are much smaller, or combine large and small companies. No matter the size of the companies involved, when entering the field, “You need to be purposeful and execute quickly,” explained Siddall.

And you need to consider “What makes relationships work—what are the leverage points?” added Kliman.  “As we think about this new landscape of partnering, we are already seeing our clients making mistakes.”

One of the really important areas where companies are struggling in this ecosystem is the process of thinking through whether they should be partnering at all. “Should we just have a vendor relationship? What does partnership mean? Through what process are we making that decision? Where does partnering make sense?” said Kliman, ticking off the kinds of questions that naturally emerge.

“To achieve maximum value, biopharmas must select the right partners to address specific needs and manage these relationships in a way that acknowledges these differences,” Kliman emphasizes. It’s very important in the process to consider the differences between pharma and tech, he said, while flashing a slide.

The pharma cycle has:

  • High levels of regulation
  • Very long (five-plus years) “product” development
  • Management and investors familiar with longer development
  • Purposeful and predictable innovation and co-creation
  • Strong functional stakeholders (medical, legal, compliance, finance)
  • Contractual, asset-based alliances with fixed lengths
  • Well-defined commercial negotiation models with “customers” with significant regulation

The tech cycle has:

  • Variability—many markets are not regulated
  • Short to moderate (1-3 years) “product” development
  • Management/investors who tend to expect quick ROI and steady growth
  • Rapid and agile innovation and co-creation
  • Moderate or weak functional stakeholders (legal, compliance, finance)
  • A blend of formal/informal alliances, often with no fixed length
  • Flexible, market-driven customer engagement processes

Also of great importance is the process of thinking through the best possible partner choices and evaluating them according to the meta-criteria of capabilities. Both presenters recommend considering the marketplace and size of the deals and evaluating potential partners from multiple dimensions that go beyond just the financial impact. Vantage recommends doing this with a four-quadrant methodology that analyzes strategic, financial, operational, and relational fits.

“On the back end, we have challenges during execution to consider,” Kliman added. “Pharma and IT are significantly different. If your core expertise is to identify and manage alliance models that manage different partners, that needs to be brought into upstream activities as well.”

“If you are going to enter into this new world, you want to make sure the relationship is purposeful,” Kliman added. A purposeful relationship contains the following criteria, he said. It should be:

  • Purposeful (focused on a well-defined market; meets patient, partner, and company needs)
  • Choiceful (partnership is worth the effort; has the right answer, among other things)
  •  Designed and developed collaboratively (based on a shared vision; focused on joint gain, among other things)
  • Actively managed (with joint oversight; systems reviews; robust metrics)
  • Building over time
  • Assessed

See part one of this session coverage blog and stay tuned for more ASAP Media team coverage from the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference. 

Tags:  alliance  Ben Siddall  healthcare landscape  licensing-type alliance groups  partnering  pharma  Stu Kliman  tech  Vantage Partners 

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The Rugged Biopharma/Tech Topography: What Alliance Managers Need to Know (Part 1)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Business partnering today requires know-how to negotiate nontraditional collaborations for purposes that are different from those of classical business development and licensing (BD&L) alliances. The partnering landscape for biopharma firms is evolving to include a variety of these new kinds of collaborations, according to the session “Non-traditional Partnerships:  The Changing BioPharma Alliance Landscape and the Implications for the Alliance Professional and Alliance Management Community,” led by Stuart Kliman, CA-AM, and Ben Siddall, both of whom are partners at Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Vantage Partners. The two took to the floor at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference to provide key insights on the value and challenges these partnerships bring, especially in the area of biopharma/tech collaborations, which are resulting in very different business models. I had the opportunity to talk with Stu Kliman before the session. Here are some of the insights he provided on this hot topic.

ASAP Media: What is the impetus for your session?

Stuart Kliman: This session is about this ongoing theme of new types of collaborations happening in the healthcare ecosystem. It’s really all about how biopharma and tech are doing more and more together—so new and different kinds of relationships. Those relationships have different purposes. They might differentiate the value proposition of a product or a drug or support outcomes-based deals within the healthcare system. Or they might provide real world evidence and value-based pricing models. This session is about some of the differences between pharma and tech and the different kinds of challenges that organizations need to deal with. About the upstream, how do you start to think about creating these kinds of relationships and the key success factors for doing so? This also raises the question about if and how classic business development and licensing-type alliance groups need to evolve to deal with the changed environment.

We can see from the lineup at this year’s ASAP BioPharma Conference that the biopharma/tech partnering relationship is a very hot topic. How pervasive is the interest on the tech side?

Every tech company that’s out there is trying to figure out how to get into healthcare. It’s this world of FitBit. It’s this whole world of software, hardware, and device companies exploring the healthcare world.

This session is an extension of some of the topics you’ve been discussing and advising on for some time.  What’s different in this session?

There is a lot of focus on understanding the healthcare landscape, defining the problems that the healthcare landscape is creating.  For example, there might be things related to better data, trial efficiency, or the context of a specific therapy, or the need to track value. The first thing you need to do is make sure you have thought through what the different problems are, what capabilities you need to partner with, consider different kinds of players that are out there, and be thinking about the right kind of business model to work with them, and how to design overall relationship around that shared vision.  We will spend more time talking about this notion of problem definition and think through tentative problem types. Does that lead to something that feels like an innovative alliance relationship or a more traditional one?

Stay tuned for more of the ASAP Media team’s coverage of this and other sessions at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference. 

Tags:  alliance  Ben Siddall  healthcare landscape  licensing-type alliance groups  partnering  pharma  Stu Kliman  tech  Vantage Partners 

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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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Pervasiveness of the ‘Alliance Journey’: ASAP president’s opener reflects on Summit challenges with humor on how our alliance journey can involve surprisingly high waters, police escorts, and fire

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, March 30, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, March 29, 2017

“Come hell or high water” is an apt description of this year’s pre-Summit preparations in “sunny” San Diego for the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Partnering Enterprise.” A unique “alliance journey” is how Michael Leonetti, CSAP, president and CEO of ASAP, summed it up in his clever opener in the Marriot Mission Valley hotel ballroom. Record-setting torrential rain and the swollen San Diego River set the stage for a unique gathering fraught with “headaches”—but fortunately laced with humor. Sound familiar?  

“It was raining, and we were ready to go, getting ready for board meetings, et cetera, and then the hotel had a fire with actual smoke, people leaving the building, people refusing to leave. That’s when it started to remind me of an alliance journey,” Leonetti quipped. “The next day in ‘sunny San Diego,’ there was the rain again. We were setting up an executive committee meeting … and things started to come unglued,” he said while flashing a slide behind him of soggy hotel ceiling opening to the elements.

But in spite of it all, “We had a great day, a great discussion on how to make ASAP great,” Leonetti said.  “It just never stops with you alliance managers,” he joked to the roaring audience.

Leonetti praised the audience for their perseverance with flight delays and taxi mishaps. Disruption is a component of any alliance journey, he pointed out, and that’s especially true when your hotel is surrounded by a “moat.”

“I’ve heard some amazing stories,” he quipped. “Some of you arrived in canoes, fire engines, and police cars” because of the rising waters of the San Diego River. “Some got to Qualcomm Way, and the cab driver said ‘get out.’ A couple grabbed their bags, started walking to the hotel, and walked through water up to their knees. Then the police escorted them.”

 “Next morning, I wake up and the San Diego River is behind the hotel, and the hotel is surrounded by water. Which is when some of you did some amazing things to get here. We’re going to have a great meeting because you’re here,” he said to rousing applause. “And we’ve worked hard, so get ready for a great ride!”

And it was. The weather turned a sunny 70 degrees, and participants enjoyed outdoor networking sessions and abundant quality content. Summit highlights included the ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards (http://www.strategic-alliances.org/blogpost/1143942/269640/Exemplary-Alliance-Management-Practices-Receive-Accolades-and-Honors-at-ASAP-s-2017-Alliance-Excellence-Awards-Ceremony), followed by a well-attended session “Meet the 2017 ASAP Alliance Excellence Award Winners,” monitored by Anthony DeSpirito, CSAP, Schneider Electric. Also of note: an engaging leadership forum, ASAP Aquarium, four outstanding plenary talks, and an engrossing keynote by Alex Dickinson, PhD, founder and executive chairman for ChromaCode and recent senior vice president of strategic initiatives at the San Diego-based DNA sequencing leader Illumina. Dickinson’s address, The New Convergence: Life Science + Tech + Government,” discussed the complexity of partnering as DNA sequencing and genomics technology companies, research institutions, healthcare providers, and many others (such as life insurers) have converged around an explosion of applications that leverage cloud computing for large-scale DNA sequencing, storage, and usage of genomics data.  

Scroll through this blog site for additional coverage of the dynamic plenary presentations (similar in format and content to TED Talks), captivating workshops, and a wide selection of engaging sessions, which will continue to be posted through April. 

Tags:  Alex Dickinson  Alliance Excellence Awards  Alliance Managers  Anthony DeSpirito  ASAP Global Alliance Summit  ChromaCode  Government  healthcare providers  Life Science  Michael Leonetti  Schneider Electric  Tech 

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What’s Brewing in the 2016 Biopharma Conference Beaker? | Part 1

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, July 19, 2016

In a recent interview, ASAP CEO Mike Leonetti, CSAP, provided a sampling of what’s to come at the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference. He offered insights into the changing landscape for partnerships and how alliance managers and others need to adapt, as well as a preview of speakers and cutting edge sessions and workshops.  

Why is this a must-attend conference for alliance managers, CEOs, and others working in the biopharma, healthcare, and life sciences industries? 

Partnership management is changing. If they are performing their jobs the same way they were two years ago, they likely are leaving money on the table or missing great new opportunities. This year’s conference offers programming to learn how to partner in new environments, which includes tech, academic, and healthcare system partnerships. An ongoing message of the conference is to understand that the ecosystem is getting larger, and their enterprise now represents their company, partners, and the entire healthcare system. As alliance managers, we can no longer be comfortable defining our box as an asset partnership and staying there. We will limit our creation of value in our companies unless we harvest the enterprise. 

What’s new at this year’s conference? 

We are going to talk a lot about the changes in partnerships across the industry. We are not only going to talk about biopharma and healthcare, we are going to hear from people on the tech side of ASAP regarding what’s important and best practices when partnering with tech. It will provide key opportunities to learn about tech companies and how they partner. If biopharma and healthcare are going to partner with tech, each of these industries needs to have a clear understanding of the others’ expectations. 

What timely message is Dr. Samuel Nussbaum, strategic consultant at EGB Advisors, Inc., likely to provide during his keynote address? 

The keynote, “Healing the U.S. Health Care System: Collaboration is Essential,” which is scheduled for the afternoon of Wed., Sept. 7, will tie directly into our theme. Sam is going to talk about his background and expertise with the impact of public policy on healthcare systems and healthcare reform. He will talk a lot about how important collaboration is to finding a solution to our system crisis; my guess is he may try to give examples of how manufacturers, payers, policy experts, academics, and anybody else in the healthcare system can collaborate and partner to overcome major obstacles regarding healthcare reform. 

Who will give the plenary address? 

Our plenary will be given by Stéphane Thiroloix, CEO of Mayoly Spindler, on the morning of Thurs., Sept. 8. Mayoly Spindler is an emerging family-owned, independent French company, originally founded by a husband-and-wife team working to provide gastroenterology and dermatology healthcare solutions. Stéphane joined as managing director in 2014, and he has lots of leadership experience from working in multiple biopharma executive roles before joining Mayoly Spindler. He is an advocate who understands what it takes to be successful in a partnership and basically created the partnership management function in his last two roles.  He will share what a CEO’s expectations are for alliance management success. 

To view the program and download brochure information, go to www. asapweb.org/biopharma.

Tags:  alliance management  biopharma  collaborate  Dr. Samuel Nussbaum  ecosystem  healthcare  healthcare reform  Mayoly Spindler  partner  partnership  Partnership management  Partnerships  public policy  Stéphane Thiroloix  tech 

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