How to Get Noticed by Big Pharma

pills_credit_cardIn today’s tough economic climate, one of the best ways for a fledgling pharmaceutical company to grow its business is to partner up with a well-established peer. However, sending an unsolicited request to Big Pharma may be a futile endeavor. According to Mark McBride, vice president and managing director of Innovaro Europe, less than 15 percent of unsolicited inquiries to Big Pharma actually get reviewed.

How can a pharmaceutical startup grab the attention of Big Pharma? McBride suggests that companies “build a story” around their intellectual property to enable a prospective partner to rapidly understand not only the core science, but more importantly, where the IP would fit into the prospective partner’s portfolio. He also stresses the importance of having third parties validate the science and research as the IP moves through the development pipeline.

Finding the right audience is also important. Rather than indiscriminately firing off solicitations, companies should identify who the right prospective partners will be. Consulting groups such as Innovaro Pharmalicensing can help guide companies to the right prospective partners, allowing business development personnel to focus on pipeline development. Once key prospects have been identified, fledgling companies should engage with what McBride calls the “scouts” of these potential partners. Scouts can aid fledgling companies in understanding whether their IP is a fit for the needs of the partner. If the IP is right, and the timing and stage of development is right, scouts can help the company to face the inevitable barriers that stem from an unsolicited approach.

Some of the most common mistakes McBride sees from SMEs (small and medium enterprises) include a “frightening” lack of understanding of the marketplace and where their IP may fit, a lack of empathy to what a prospective partner is looking to achieve, and a lack of understanding of the type of partnership most appropriate for the company. Companies may also fail to plan ahead for the creation of the “data package” that they will ultimately need to share with a prospective partner. McBride suggests that management teams keep it in the forefront of their mind and budget for it from the beginning.

“An injection of reality is very important from both the SME’s and the investor’s point of view,” states McBride. “An educated shareholder is very important, as much creativity and innovation has been hampered or crushed over the years simply from not having aligned expectations about the IP, the process and the timing.”

McBride will be discussing these issues and more in a workshop titled “Get on Big Pharma’s Radar,” being held Wednesday, June 30th from 9:50-10:35 a.m. and 3:10-3:55 p.m at the 2010 OneMedForum. The workshop will cover how firms have conducted licensing and research, and will allow for plenty of discussion as well as peer learning. This session will be of interest to both the business development individuals from small and medium businesses, as well as the investors who want to ensure that the companies they are investing in are heading in the right direction to allow the most profitable growth and exit.

For more information on this and other workshops at the June 29-30th OneMedForum, please visit

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