by Elizabeth Iorns, Ph.D., CEO and Co-Founder, Science Exchange
Originally appeared in the 2017 Fierce Life Science Innovation Report (download PDF)
R&D productivity and efficiency are key measures for evaluating the success of biotech and pharma companies. In theory, investing resources into R&D to boost those measures should yield positive results. Unfortunately, recent trends suggest a less desirable outcome.
A primary driver of the R&D productivity decline is the prolific growth in innovative therapeutic modalities. The first siRNA therapeutics, CAR-T engineered cells, and viral gene therapies have all been approved by the FDA within the past 2 years alone. This innovation in the biotech and pharma industry has enabled spectacular successes in the treatment of devastating diseases, but it comes with significant operational challenges.
In contrast to the well-known development process for small molecules, these new highly specialized therapeutics require exponentially more diverse and complex technologies and expertise. So how do biotech and pharma companies access this evolving set of technology and expertise? Increasingly, they have shifted to a reliance on an external R&D ecosystem. By outsourcing, companies can manage fixed costs while accessing specialized technologies, particularly in complex R&D areas. As of 2017, nearly half of R&D budgets are spent on outsourced scientific services and the trend is increasing.
But, several challenges prevent companies from realizing returns on their outsourcing investments.
- First: even though outsourcing represents a rapid path to new technologies, identifying relevant and qualified service providers is a time-consuming task that can take weeks or even months.
- Second: contracts required to maintain confidentiality, protect IP, and ensure compliance can delay project initiation and add to transaction costs.
- Third: R&D organizations may have thousands of individual scientists conducting tens of thousands of outsourced R&D projects each year. Maintaining visibility, monitoring performance, measuring success represent a significant management burden.
Science Exchange directly addresses these challenges and has demonstrated a significant impact on productivity and efficiency in R&D programs around the world. The Science Exchange platform uniquely provides a marketplace of pre-qualified and pre-contracted outsourced R&D service providers to provide scientists with instant access to the innovative services necessary to advance today’s pipeline.
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