Does Bio Connect?
If you showed up at Bio without a little prior planning, I would imagine the size and scale of the event could be somewhat overwhelming, which is perhaps why some people have expressed concern over its size. Prior to my attending, I did a little planning, flagging the breakout sessions I thought looked interesting based on the topics, or the people speaking. This is where being bigger is better. For example, the size of the show attracts many major industry players. How major you ask? I met with the Tae-Han Kim, president and CEO of Samsung Biologics, Shaun Grady, VP of strategic partnering for Astra Zeneca, Markus Ewert, EVP GE Healthcare, Gregory Zdechlik, chief operations officer for Lilly’s diagnostics, Barbara Yanni, VP and chief licensing officer for Merck, and James Creeden, chief medical officer, Roche diagnostics — just to name a few.
Bio is also well organized, with many breakout sessions being of the size I would describe as intimate — between 20 to 100 attendees. It was at one of these breakout sessions where I walked up to Roch Doliveux, CEO of UCB . Prior to his moderating a session, he took time to share his thoughts on how current incentives to various healthcare system stakeholders are out of alignment. At another session, I met David Meeker, M.D., CEO of Genzyme, who shared various statistics around the progress of orphan drug development (i.e. the FDA having approved 116 orphan drugs). But Meeker cautions those in charge of approving drugs not get too wrapped up in the statistics, as these often don’t reveal the impact transformative therapies have on patients. He would like to see an increased level of humanism brought back to the drug approval process. Further, Meeker believes the “Six Minute Walk Test” to be an inadequate standard to use for determining if a drug works. So yes, Bio connects.
Does Bio Partner and Innovate?
I would say Bio’s ability to enable partnering has to be one of its most unique characteristics. When you walk the exhibit show floor, you not only see vendor and sponsor industry’ booths, you see country and state pavilions. These pavilions demonstrate how Bio helps start-up companies, such as Natrix Separations (headed up by CEO John Chickosky), partner with government to have a presence at Bio. Exhibiting at a conference might prove cost prohibitive for a small start-up. Thanks to the pavilion set up at Bio, small companies have the ability to utilize a kiosk type set up from which to conduct business.
The term strategic partnering has been an industry buzzword for the past couple of years. In many of my discussions with companies on how they go about partnering, I hear other buzzwords such as transparency and collaboration, and quite honestly, very few people provide examples of what they are doing to be true strategic partners. But at Bio, I found two willing to share what they are doing in reference to this term.
Tom D’Ambra, Ph.D., CEO for AMRI, spent a half hour getting me up to speed on his company’s new program — SMARTSOURCING — a series of strategic insourcing, outsourcing, and/or hybrid models of both, that are customizable . I think it is important to note that I didn’t have a scheduled appointment and yet he was very gracious with his time. I didn’t have a schedule appointment with Patheon’s CEO James Mullen, either. And yet, he and EVP, Geoff Glass, spent 45 minutes explaining some of their customer service initiatives. The one I found most intriguing is Patheon’s certified consultant program. Here’s why. The consultants are industry key opinion leaders and independent of the company. Patheon certification indicates theirs consultants have completed a training program on Patheon’ offerings and does not restrict them from providing recommendations outside the Patheon umbrella. Want to ingratiate yourself to customers? Try providing them quick and ready access to 12 independent experts with 337 years of industry experience. Now that’s what I call being innovative and strategic partnering.