Competitor today, friend tomorrow: Why partnering is critical for biopharma success

With partnering an integral part of BIO-Europe Spring’s make-up, experts at the event in Barcelona last month discussed key takeaways and why industry collaboration is so important.

Millie Nelson, Editor

April 5, 2024

4 Min Read
BIO-Europe Spring talk - image c/o Millie Nelson

Partnering event BIO-Europe Spring brings together pioneers in the Life Science Industry and provides delegates with an opportunity to meet and access various content. Experts at the event in Barcelona, Spain spoke of the importance of partnering meetings, what advantages they bring both themselves and their respective companies, and of course why they attend.  

“The main purpose for Rentschler is always visibility, to give new customers in the market perspective and drive their products,” Patrick Meyer, senior director of global strategic business development at Rentschler Biopharma, said during a panel discussion on the subject.

“As a second objective the BIO events [EBD’s BIO-Europe, BIO-Europe Spring, along with industry advocacy group BIO’s annual meetings] are [there] to meet people, new clients, existing clients, see familiar faces and discuss different options we can bring to the table.” said Meyer added such events are also used as a place where the team “can internally catch up” but maintained it is mostly “for our clients and any interested party.”

Competitor today, friend tomorrow

Moderating the panel, Mike Ward, global head of life sciences and healthcare thought leadership at Clarivate, asked Meyer: “To what extent does a contract development manufacturing organization (CDMO) use a meeting like this to gather intelligence [and] take the pulse of enthusiasm in the industry and spot what future requirements might be?”

Meyer said as a CDMO, Rentschler uses the event “quite a lot,” for the reasons put forward by Ward and despite competitors being at the event, the “biotech [space] is a village, and we exchange on different aspects with our competitors.”

He told delegates this provides the CDMO with the opportunity to ask questions such as “do they feel the same pain we do?” as well as the ability to look “at technologies that are popping up and companies that are coming up with new services we have not got on our radar.”

Selwyn Ho, CEO of Medigene, agreed with Meyers and replied, “on a corporate development side we are always scanning; a competitor today could be a friend tomorrow.”

Furthermore, Ho provided a breakdown of how his firm passes such an event, with “30% of time” dedicated to search and evaluation and “70% of the time progressing initial discussions we have had and pushing them much further along [with] face-to-face meetings. There is only so much [you can do] on Zoom, on Teams. Face-to-face is critical.”

Partnering meetings: Both quantity and quality

Jeremy Benattar, marketing and strategy director for Adocia, a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing treatments for diabetes and obesity, explained how his goal at BIO events is to “have the highest number of quality meetings.”

Benattar discussed how the event provides the company with “three days where we have to meet the maximum number of people who could be partners.” He added “the beauty of having these regular meetings with BIO [events] and face-to-face [meetings] helps the process and [means you] can count on the next one to prepare to meet new people but also [use] it to follow up.”

As Adocia is a player in the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) industry, which is set to be a $102 billion business by 2030, he mentioned the firm had “received lots of meeting requests because of GLP-1 activity [as] everyone wants to be part of this because the market is booming.”

Benattar’s comments echoed the sentiments of other industry experts at BIO-Europe Spring who discussed the GLP-1 roar and their fear of missing out (FOMO) for not being in the space from the very beginning.

The key to BD

“The beauty is that meeting conversations can turn into creating a new idea,” said Claudia Blattner, vice president of business development at Immatics Biotechnologies. She described such conferences as “the key business development interactions meeting” and said it allows her firm to “catch up with pharma partners, most of those who are interested in what we are doing, and we have [already] been in touch with.”

Meyer agreed and said the discussions Rentschler carried out during the event “have already been going on for years and years. I think the BIO [events] are good reconnection points for those long-term connections and discussions.”

Essentially, the goal is to continue having those “regular connections until it becomes a project.”

About the Author(s)

Millie Nelson

Editor, BioProcess Insider

Journalist covering global biopharmaceutical manufacturing and processing news and host of the Voices of Biotech podcast.

I am currently living and working in London but I grew up in Lincolnshire (UK) and studied in Newcastle (UK).

Got a story? Feel free to email me at [email protected]

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