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Monthly Archives: June 2013

The importance of the business development and licensing (BD&L) function in the global biopharmaceutical industry has grown significantly over the past 20 years as pharmaceutical companies have sought to supplement their internal R&D with innovative products and technologies sourced from biotechnology and drug delivery companies. This has required companies to employ BD&L executives to search, evaluate, negotiate and alliance manage deals ranging from small biotechnology companies to the largest of the Big Pharma companies. Nowadays all the large companies have BD&L teams, sometimes in excess of 100 people. To inform new BD&L entrants and to improve the professionalism of the experienced BD&L executives, various training courses are offered by not-for-profit associations and commercial organisations. The leading not-for-profit association in Europe for biopharmaceutical executives is the Pharmaceutical Licensing Group and in the US it is the Licensing Executive Society. Both organisations offer basic training courses but as far as is known, the only university accredited Master’s degree qualification in BD&L is the distance learning MSc offered by the University of Manchester. The dissemination of specialist knowledge and best practice is through the journals and conferences of the professional associations. The need for well-qualified BD&L executives in the biopharmaceutical industry is demonstrated by the fact that 25% or more of Big Pharma sales come from third party products and the cost of licensing deals alone is over $200m on average.

This article looks at the findings of Marks & Clerk’s 2013 Life Sciences Report, launched in April 2013. Of interest to both R&D/IP experts and professionals in strategic positions within biotechnology companies, it explores many of the issues facing the biotechnology industry and is informed by an industry survey of over 330 international life sciences professionals. Topics explored include the financial climate, growing markets in Asia, IP reforms in the US and Europe, biosimilars and personalised medicine.

This paper explores possible differences in investment strategies between specialty and non-specialty funds in the life sciences industry. The results were based on proprietary information collected in telephone interviews from 28 mutual funds located in nine European countries. As predicted, specialty funds have shorter holding periods, are more event-driven, and are more likely to focus their investment strategies on established technologies. Counter to our predictions, specialty funds are no less likely to invest in novel technologies. Also counter to predictions, specialty funds place more importance on conventional finance methods in selecting firms, and they are no more likely to use non-conventional finance valuation or non-financial criteria when selecting companies for their portfolios. This exploratory study provides new insights into differences in investment strategies between specialty and non-specialty mutual funds, which may help to explain the underlying performance difference, found in previous research. Furthermore, this study may be helpful to alert life sciences entrepreneurs to the factors that these mutual fund managers are likely to consider when determining their investment strategies. Finally, it provides insights relevant to investors seeking to build better investment strategies for life sciences stocks.

The orthodox business model of many drug discovery and development companies centres on adding value to early-stage discoveries prior to engaging with large pharmaceutical companies to bring products to market. Anecdotal observations suggest some companies are moving to a ‘virtual’ business model - instead of employing in-house scientists, a skeletal management team runs the company and out-sources all research and development. This article presents a novel method to determine whether companies are virtual, based on author bylines in peer-reviewed journal articles.

Applying this method to Australian companies in this sector, the size of the cohort identified as virtual was much larger than anticipated, around 52%. The accuracy of this method has been verified statistically using interview data. This article discusses the value and limitations of this method, positing that it can be used to analyse industry and policy implications that may result from widespread adoption of the virtual model

The PhD is becoming more and more prevalent as a degree. However, PhD students are not adequately prepared for careers outside academia and most of them have trouble translating their skills to the job market. The biotech sector is a science-driven industry that is now mature and flourishing and requires business leaders that are technically trained. But technical skills are only a partial requirement, with in-depth industry education and knowledge being equally important. There is an inherent advantage to pursuing a PhD alongside education in management in the form of an advanced/professional master’s degree. This will allow PhDs to explore alternative careers outside academia.