Let’s start by saying that nobody could have predicted just how unpredictable 2020 would be.
With everything that is occurring, a wonderful platform has been handed to science and scientists. Countries around the world are televising the advice from their leading medical experts to find a vaccine for the coronavirus. Behind the scenes, Biopharma works day and night to find a cure, as well as looking at other hugely important and significant areas for global improvement.
Join us as we explore some of the major Biopharma trends for 2020.
1. Team Alignment and Common Strategy
Different parts of the biopharma world experienced a notable surge in takeovers in 2019 and early 2020. Let’s take gene therapy as an example. 2019 saw two of the biggest businesses mergers and acquisitions in the history of gene therapy, with Thermo Fisher Scientific buying Brammer Bio for $1.7bn and Catalent buying Paragon Bioservices for $1.2bn. In 2020, Catalent took another step forward in the gene therapy trend by purchasing cell therapy manufacturer Masthercell from Orgenesis for $315m. In the immunology space, AbbVie made a record-breaking $63bn purchase of Allergan.
If major mergers and acquisitions was the trend for 2019, then 2020 sees some of the world’s largest and most powerful organisations involved in an expansive project of team alignment and common strategy.
How does this trend affect the people who work there?
It is reported that many biopharma businesses are improving their M&A internal capabilities due to the surge in takeovers. These improvements involve upgrading operating processes, software solutions, skills, resources, and helping those involved to see the opportunities that will present themselves. They want to ensure that executing M&As remotely during the pandemic is not only possible but can be done within a developed framework and in a variety of different scenarios, whilst minimising stress and disruptions.
Where does StratX ExL fit in?
Mergers and acquisitions take a great deal of leadership and a huge amount of team alignment in order to go through, and the same goes for the closing of joint ventures. If you develop your people, your people will help you get through anything. StratX ExL’s highly experiential learning and development programs use industry-focused business simulations such as the biopharma business simulation in a wide variety of scenarios to prepare staff for M&As, as well as crisis events, crisis recovery, and new strategic pivots (all of which are poignant in the current climate). Our experiential learning programs will help to provide a semblance of normality to the events that take place during a takeover. Some more examples include:
- R&D asset shaping: from lab to market
- Launch excellence: managing a new oncology-like brand launch into a competitive market
- Commercial excellence: managing a portfolio of brands in a therapeutic franchise
- Leadership: Enterprise-level managing of a biotech firm in two therapeutic areas
2. Finding a vaccine for Covid-19
Had we written this article in December 2019 or January 2020, pondering over what the biopharma trends for 2020 would be, it’s inconceivable to say that we’d imagine the global biopharma industry pooling resources together to try and solve a planet-halting pandemic.
But, that’s where we are.
As it stands, there are 398 different Covid-19 drugs currently at various stages of testing (as of June 2020). There are 346 at preclinical levels, 42 at phase one and two of clinical trials, and 9 that have made it all the way to phase three of clinical trials (as of June 12th 2020).
Since Covid-19 affects everyone, so does finding a vaccine, and that’s why this is undoubtedly the biggest biopharma trend of 2020. As we look to the future, the trend for biopharma, once a vaccine is found, will be meeting an entire global demand for it. Production will be huge, logistics will be vital, and if there are any side-effects, issues, or problems along the way, it could cause huge kickbacks. The rate at which Covid-19 vaccines are being developed and pushed through is much faster than the industry standard, so could insurance and risk assessment be another trend for late-2020?
3. The rise of remote working in Biopharma
Like many industries, biopharma has had to adjust. It’s conceivable that whilst some scientific processes could only take place in a lab, much of the sales, marketing, admin and other previously office-based procedures can be done from home. In fact, it will have to be done from home as a number of multinationals who will not be reopening their offices in 2020. The rise in remote work has resulted in the need for the biopharma industry (as well as countless other valuable industries) to boost collaboration, teamwork, and morale, without being in the same room as their workers.
Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics, reported that:
- Employees spend less than half of their working time at their desk, making office space a waste of resources
- The experience of Covid-19 and working from home will force many to ask questions about where and how they work
- The typical employer could save $11,000 per year for each person who works remotely half of the time, whilst that same employee could save around $2,500-4,000 per year at least.
Remote working wellness trend for Biopharma?
Whilst Biopharma is finding many positives from the rise in remote working, like many other industries they also have to deal with the negative trends too. A study by Slack found that 25% of remote workers experience a loss of belonging whilst working at home. Another study, this time by Buffer, found that 20% of remote workers struggled with loneliness, collaboration, and communication. Those chats in the kitchen or having lunch together at work adds a degree of humanity to the workplace that is often overlooked, and so now the rise of sharing memes, funny videos, hosting virtual quizzes and enjoying a drink together over Zoom are being encouraged. StratX ExL has also found that many teams working remotely have looked to our experiential learning solutions as a way to help their teams bond, whilst building useful skills at the same time. For late-2020, Biopharma businesses may have to start paying more attention to the wellness of their remote-working employees.
4. Launching products entirely online
With offices closed, teams dispersed, and organisations looking to bounce back to the new normal with bundles of optimism, there are upcoming problems that are yet to truly test the better nature of the industry. One of these problems is product launches. In the past, marketing and business development teams have been able to meet up for seminars and offsite meetings in order to collate information, develop strategies, and put ideas into place. With entire teams working remotely from their home offices, there are new logistical challenges.
How has StratX ExL solved this issue?
We developed the Launch scenario of CentrX Biopharma, a simulation designed to use experiential learning to help cross-functional (marketing, medical, regulatory) and geographically spread teams to launch products effectively. The simulation can be deployed remotely across cross-functional, virtual teams. It takes into account strategy, the roles of each member, and how everything fits together in the launch process. Teams take part in three rounds: pre-launch, launch year and post launch year, and a new competition in the market. Learn more by reading this case study.
A year of ups and downs
Remote working could have been predicted, and perhaps large mergers and acquisitions could have too, but few would have seen global pharmaceutical companies working towards solving a pandemic. Who would be brave enough to predict the Biopharma trends for 2021?
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