This was debated by 140 delegates at the BioBeat14: 50 Movers and Shakers event at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge on 23 October run by BioBeat, the Innovation Forum, and Cambridge Judge Business School’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning. For bio entrepreneurs, the debate and networking offered unparalleled access to the leaders, to discuss their ideas; to find out what’s in, what’s out, the next big things.
Panel debate: Leading in a Collaborative World
It’s a more competitive world and we will win by being more collaborative. As the life science sector undergoes rapid transformation and expansion, with economic pressures intensifying, the cross-currents of technological and market developments encourage us to integrate and innovate as never before.
Responding to issues such as global health challenges, the diversity of needs, the ever-increasing specialisation of technologies together with the need for inter-discipliniarity, working in virtual teams, e-health, opportunities and challenges for collaboration abound.
This was the theme of the debate led by panellists:
- Maina Bhaman, Director Healthcare Ventures, Imperial Innovations plc
- Ruth McKernan CBE, Senior Vice President, Pfizer and CSO, Pfizer Neusentis
- Carina Namih, CEO and Co-founder, HelixNano
- Carmel Reilly, CEO and Co-founder, NeurocentRx Pharma
- Chair: Louise Wood, Deputy Director/Head of Research Infrastructure and Growth, Department of Health
“The UK has a vibrant life sciences ecosystem, with universities, the NHS and medical research charities collaborating with companies big and small on an unprecedented scale. Teasing out the tensions between collaboration and competition is a critical precursor to ensuring organisations are ready culturally and structurally for collaboration. A fresh take on leadership styles, multi-disciplinary working and attitudes to risk are fundamental to enabling this” said Chair, Louise Wood.
The discussion alighted on four areas that will be important:
Early input into a business to test the market and taking the pulse of the eco-system is key.
Take risks early on and understand them and why they are essential to moving forward. Building trust and understanding to value what each party brings to the other is key. Perhaps more easily said than done as cultural differences and perceptions need to be taken on board – and the ride can be bumpy.
Pharma needs bio. Over the last 25 years the number of major pharma companies worldwide has dropped from 57 to nine, while biotech continues to grow. Partnerships work best when there is a close fit, so probe the compatibility. Medicine is going to be more about prevention, using genomics data, with bio-informaticians, mathematicians and lab scientists working together.
We need new models for collaboration focussing on successful outcomes that include ‘Institutional readiness’ for collaboration, flexible approaches to rights, and new models for equity sharing. Investors need to take stock and adapt to the changing landscape. The time to spin-out is when goals go beyond what is achievable in existing structures. Specific mentoring, cross-discipline teach-ins, and flat hierarchies will give bio companies agility.
Let’s learn from the young rising stars with their new skills, comfortable with uncertainty, flexible thinking, openness to new practices and willing to challenge the status quo. They give us fresh takes on leadership in the quest to deliver better health to humankind.
Johnson + Johnson Innovation, MedImmune, Horton Ruston Poole and Pfizer sponsored BioBeat14, including the report 50 Movers and Shakers in BioBusiness 2014. Cambridge Innovation Capital, One Nucleus and Blendology also supported the event.
Download the report 50 Movers and Shakers in BioBusiness 2014.