Strategic Partnerships For Product Development: Cast A Wide Net To Identify Potential Partners

Strategic Partnerships For Product Development: Cast A Wide Net To Identify Potential Partners

June 21, 2012 No Comments » Blog Post Snowfish

I am excited about the significant opportunities life science companies and research institutions have to work together to commercialize new molecules and treatments. Forming these strategic partnerships is a critical undertaking, and much time and money can be wasted if it’s not done well. I want to share with you the essential elements for identifying potential strategic partners that are well aligned with your goals and objectives.
When I converse with clients about expanding their product pipelines, I commonly hear that they are moving in a direction based upon one of their favorite investigator’s pet projects or free advice on areas the company should pursue. Alternatively, many companies start new product development partnerships by approaching the same short list of top institutions that are well-known in a given disease-state or treatment area.

This is farthest from the ideal approach. Our research shows that only 20% of optimal partners are “usual suspects”, i.e., institutions at which a company’s trusted medical experts are employed or those of great notoriety. Strategic product development isn’t about pet projects and anecdotal information it’s about making good business decisions that will help the company achieve future growth. Consulting with trusted medical experts is helpful, but it serves as only one element of a strategic product development plan. Additionally, the top institutions may not have the specific expertise you need. Often times it is the research institutions outside of the leading universities that are conducting the most innovative and compelling research into new mechanisms of actions or novel approaches to treatment.

At Snowfish we work with our clients to expand their pipelines through “casting a wide net.” What this involves is looking at all potential research institutions early in the process. Below are my thoughts on the critical steps to “cast a wide net” and develop a list of potential partners.

1. Develop a detailed disease-state understanding. Go beyond the current standard of care to dig into the novel approaches and mechanisms of actions being studied.

2. Look at all institutions doing research in the disease-state you’re interested in. Depending on the disease-state you may have 750 to 1,000 research institutions to consider.

3. Gather input from physicians practicing in the desired disease-state.

4. Compile and analyze all of this information.
With a list of research institutions that demonstrate strong expertise in the desired disease-state there will be at least a few that will fit the ideal partner profile. It is our experience that approximately 1% of the evaluated institutions merit an on-site visit by the life science company. To get to this point, more refinement is needed to determine if there is a fit between potential partners. This additional refinement will be the topic of my next blog post, so watch for it.

At Snowfish we have a developed a process to gather this information and analyze it to develop an integrated picture that provides real insights into potential partnerships. While it is more time consuming to complete this extensive research and analysis, in the end our clients ensure their limited patent time is valuable and productive, and they don’t waste time on partnerships that are misaligned. Please call me if you would like to discuss how to improve your process for finding strategic partners for product development. I can be reached at 1-866-766-9489.

We have a lot to learn from each other…what are your comments and thoughts on how your organization identifies potential product development partners. Do you have processes and systems in place to identify potential product development partners? If so, share your insights. If not, then how do you currently identify these partners? Is this working and effective? If not, what do you want to change? Please join the conversation and share your challenges so we can all do this better.

If you’re interested in more information on partnerships with research institutions for product development, we recently published a White Paper titled “Identifying Strategic Partners for Product Development”. 

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