27th September 2018

Although venture capital funding for biotech companies reached nearly $11 billion in the first six months of 2018, the pool this is distributed in grew even larger as the number of biotech companies continues to rise inexorably. How can a biotech company looking for funding ensure it stands out from the crowd?

Clearly a company with effective and experienced management structure is important, as is the potential size of the market for the product. However, developing a competitive edge over existing or future competitors is key.

All biotech companies believe they have such an advantage, but the world is littered with products and services that were technologically superior but failed. Have you ever wondered why Amazon’s Kindle is the go-to e-book reader? At the time, Sony had produced one that was larger, lighter and had a better screen, but Amazon won out. Why? Simply because they changed people’s beliefs about the whole area.

Professor Ron Adner of Tuck Business School in Dartmouth explains further in his book ‘The Wide Lens: A New Strategy for Innovation’

“The key difference was the way in which Amazon aligned the ecosystem to bring its value proposition to life… Amazon did not simply bully publishers into supporting the Kindle. Amazon created conditions in the ecosystem that made joining the long-awaited e-book revolution a more attractive proposition for publishers than any previous attempt.”

E-readers may seem far removed from developing new medical or scientific approaches, but the principles hold true. Simply telling people about your product or service is not enough. You need to change their beliefs about the ecosystem they work in.

For example, companies are now looking into the use of vaccines not to prevent disease, but to treat it. Autologous cancer vaccines in development remove and treat tumour cells in such a way to make them recognisable as a target for the immune system. Once reinjected, the host recognises them, disables them and goes on to target other cancer cells in the body.

This novel approach will not be taken up overnight. Oncologists will need to be convinced about the scientific rationale of this approach. Will it work? Will it cause other issues with the immune system? What are the long-term implications? Is this really the best approach for my patient?

All their current beliefs about how cancer can and should be treated will be challenged by this new approach and until these beliefs change, their clinical behaviours of using surgery or chemotherapy will not.

Alpharmaxim helps biotech companies with this challenge by working with them to develop a narrative that gives purpose and relevance to their scientific and investor communications. By identifying beliefs and behaviours that need to be changed, and the individual steps necessary to do so, they can help plot a path towards developing communications to overcome the barriers all new treatment modalities face on their way to becoming an accepted approach.

Investors want to back the next Kindle, not the next Sony e-Reader. Help them see you are serious about creating a new ecosystem for tomorrow, not trying to fit in with the one that exists today.