Business development in biotech – a competitive advantage?

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Many biotech companies start as an idea for an idea: a business possibility for some scientific idea, often in embryonic stage. Their survival as companies and growth relies on the quality of the science but to a great extent on the team: the inventiveness of the scientists and other founding members, who, in order to transform the ideas into products, need access to money – often a lot of money, when it comes to the development of products for human health. Out there, there are extraordinary ideas, protected by good patents, fantastic projects to develop those ideas, and excellent CEOs, who know well the finance world, the industry and the investors, and can bring into the company the cash that will feed the advancement of the ideas.

While these tasks are being performed, who is creating the relationships with partners or customers that will potentially help develop the company, or have complementary technologies or skills, or complementary IP to that of the company, who is keeping an eye on the world “out-there” to understand early enough what will be the next hot themes or to find out if a large pharmaceutical company is about to start looking for just the type of product your small company got on offer, with a bit more of development work?

Well, everybody in management is doing it, but these functions are not being done full time, or in an integrated manner, because finding someone who knows how to do them well is expensive and companies in early stages have to watch every cent they spend. So, either there is already a person performing these tasks in the company, or they are not being performed to their best. Are these tasks sufficiently important that they bring the company a competitive advantage? I.e., is the cost of hiring a Business Development Manager justified by the value that the function brings to the company?

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