Master of Business and Science Degree
A More Suitable Anatomy To deal with profound uncertainty and high risks, allow closely interdependent problem solving, and harness the collective experience of disciplines throughout the sector, biotech needs a new anatomyone that involves a variety of business models, organizational forms, and institutional arrangements. Virtually all R D involves solving multiple types of problems. But there is more to success than just numbers. Learning can occur at multiple levels in a system or an industry. This was also the first time a pharmaceutical company had essentially outsourced a proprietary R D program to a for-profit enterprise.
The evolving relationship between business and science
Such optimism assumes that the underlying structure of the sector is healthy and the strategies of the players make sense. In biotech, they work at cross-purposes. Such collaborations are a step in the right direction. As the name implies, this kind of research translates basic scientific findings and concepts into specific product opportunities. Core elements of a business case/plan and how to plan, execute, and run a project that helps translate a technology from idea to commercialization. But the question of whether science can be a profitable business has largely been ignored. They patent their discoveries; their technology-transfer offices actively seek commercial partners to license the patents; and they partner with venture capitalists in spawning firms to commercialize the science emanating from academic laboratories.
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To address this problem, some universities have in the past decade launched interdisciplinary institutes to bring together scientists from biology, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, physics, engineering, and medicine. While venture capital funds have enjoyed some stellar years, and individual biotech stocks have performed spectacularly, average returns overall have been disappointing relative to the risks. Finally, the market for know-how hinders companies from forming long-term learning relationships. Granting an exclusive license to an existing firm is necessary when the technology in question is specific and further downstream in its development, its value declines as access to it grows, and certain complementary assets and capabilities are needed to fully exploit. Over the past 20 years, I have conducted extensive research on the strategies, structure, performance, and evolution of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors. Even today, they can assume that the most likely outcome of a project, after years of effort, will be failure. Anatomy helps us understand what a given species is capable of and why certain species can thrive in some environments but not others.
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People involved in biotechnology have long contended that the sector will flourish eventually. These decisions must occur in the fog of limited knowledge and experience. These companies frequently maintain their links with the universities, working closely with faculty members and postdoctoral candidates on research projects, and sometimes using the university laboratories. Business courses, research based science curriculum geared toward very specific academic discipline. They argued that small, specialized biotech companies had a comparative advantage in research over bureaucratic, vertically integrated pharmaceutical giants; Big Pharma should therefore focus on marketing and leave innovative R D to nimble biotech firms that were closer to the science. What are the proteins those genes express, and what do they do? Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, and the Prostate Cancer Foundation. And venture capitalists have had the wherewithal to manage early-stage risks and to diversify them by building portfolios of firms. Instead of concentrating on a given molecule, for example, a collaboration might focus on specific therapeutic areas or target families. Historically, a handful of companies, including AT T (the parent of Bell Labs IBM, Xerox (the parent of the Palo Alto Research Center and GE, did some remarkable research, but they were the exception.
Can Science Be a Business?: Lessons from Biotech
But that firm would be less inclined to invest in development if the therapy were also licensed to competitors. Leadership skills needed to inspire, motivate, and coach individuals, and work in diverse teams. By fueling the proliferation of start-ups, the system has helped create a sector of relatively inexperienced firms. That said, the change in strategies raises a major concern: If young biotech firms are not pursuing cutting-edge science, who will focus on the higher-risk long-term projects that offer potential medical breakthroughs? But when it comes to R D, biotech differs radically in three ways: Profound and persistent uncertainty, rooted in the limited knowledge of human biological systems and processes, makes drug R D highly risky. Putting the science into the hands of more explorers is likely to accelerate the pace of advance. A shift in the mentality and policies of universities is needed. Answering these questions requires insights from different disciplinesincluding structural genomics, functional genomics, cell biology, molecular biology, and protein chemistryand also a broad range of approaches, including computational methods, high-throughput experimentation, and traditional wet biology. In addition to demonstrating that biotechnology could be used to develop drugs, Genentech created a model for monetizing intellectual property that has proved remarkably powerful in shaping the way the biotech industry looks and performs.
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A more suitable anatomy might include the following elements. Most major pharmaceutical companies have created their own islands of expertise inside their own corporate boundaries, a deeply problematic practice that probably explains their poor R D productivity. Optimists point out that biotech firms account for a growing percentage of drugs in clinical development. My research suggests otherwise. Historically, only one out of about 6,000 synthesized compounds has ever made it to market, and only 10 to 20 of drug candidates beginning clinical trials have ultimately been approved for commercial sale.
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The profound and persistent uncertainty enveloping biotech in particular and drug R D in general means that what is known pales in comparison to what remains to be discovered. The big questions to be resolved are what the underlying mechanism of the disease is and where drug therapy might intervene. Below is a brief comparison of the MBS with other programs. A case in point is identifying a target for drug discovery. (See the exhibit Industrialized R D Has Yet to Deliver for Biotech.) There is no conclusive proof that the unexceptional productivity of biotech firms is due to the complexity and risk of the projects they undertake. What is a Master of Business Science? Facing a shortage of potential blockbuster drugs in their pipelines, these companies had dramatically increased their R D spending, but to no avail. The Biotech Experiment, science-based business is a relatively recent phenomenon. Since 2001, when the genomics bubble burst, the strategies of start-ups and the preferences of venture capitalists have undergone a marked change.
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The largest pharmaceutical companies could increase their support for the translational research they conduct on their own or in collaboration with universities. Skip to main content, the Master of Business and Science (MBS) program at Keck Graduate Institute (KGI). Fewer, closer, longer-term collaborations. The other is that evolution is the norm in business. Genentechs wildly successful initial public offering in 1980 demonstrated that a firm with no product revenues or income could go publicwhich made the sector even more attractive to venture capitalists. Biotech has suffered both. What is the pathway? The allure of equity ownership has encouraged scientific entrepreneurs to take the risks inherent in starting new firms. Further evidence that the system for monetizing intellectual property is flawed is that, on the whole, the long-term returns on investments in biotech have not been commensurate with the substantial risks.
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Yes, for two reasons. This is common in emerging fields, but the magnitude of tacit knowledge in biotech impedes the pace of learning in the sector, as we shall see. Fundamentals and applied knowledge of the chosen science/engineering/math discipline. There is deep knowledge within, say, chemistry and genomics, but much less knowledge about the connections between them. Working to understand how stem cells divide and specialize is an example of basic scientific research.
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A significant portion of the economic value of such an enterprise is ultimately determined by the quality of its science. This combination prepares students with the necessary business acumen, entrepreneurial skills, and know how to translate scientific and technological ideas into profitable products and services. Since then, virtually every new biotech firm has formed at least one contractual relationship with an established pharmaceutical or chemical company, and most have formed several. This agreement knocked down one of the chief barriers to new firms entering the pharmaceutical business: the huge cost (800 million to 1 billion in todays dollars) over the long time (ten to 12 years) generally required to develop a drug. The advance of biotechnology would have been slowed considerably had recombinant DNA, monoclonal antibodies, and other basic genetic-engineering techniques been exclusively licensed to a single firm. With their years of experience and armies of scientists, the big pharmaceutical companies that have struck deals with biotech firms surely have the knowledge to assess projects technical and commercial prospects.
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The challenge of integration is not unique to drugs. For projects that are scientifically or technologically novel, forging fewer, deeper relationships makes sense. For example, a novel cancer therapy might be more fully exploited if licensed to an organization with experience in both developing cancer drugs and designing and managing clinical trials. The first is by extending the reach of government funding further downstream. A new priority for universities. Its especially noteworthy that Genentech, after pioneering the system for monetizing intellectual property, then took a different path: along with Amgen, Genzyme, and a few others, it vertically integrated by investing heavily in manufacturing and marketing even as it continued to build internal scientific capabilities. The average R D cost per new drug launched by a biotech firm is not significantly different from the average cost per new drug launched by a major pharmaceutical company. Despite this industrialization of R D, however, the number of compounds developed by commercial organizations that have progressed at least to human clinical testing has not increased significantly. Although the number of targets (possible causes of diseases weapons (therapies) with which to attack them, and novel approaches for identifying new potential causes and cures has exploded, knowledge about many of these options remains superficial, forcing scientists. First, only a tiny fraction of biotech companies have ever been profitable or generated positive cash flows, and the sector as a whole has lost money.
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The parts of an industrys anatomy should support one another in meeting these challenges. Alliances will continue to be a critical complement to internal. Only then can it deliver on its promise to revolutionize drug R D, conquer the most intractable diseases, and create vast economic wealth. Cookie information is stored in your browser and performs functions such as recognising you when you return to our website and helping our team to understand which sections of the website you find most interesting and useful. Recognizing the connection between technology and business, and how scientific and technical knowledge impacts business decisions. According to research by Harvard Business Schools Josh Lerner and Stanford Business Schools Ulrike Malmendier, the length of a typical contract is just short of four yearsmuch less than the amount of time needed to develop a drug. The revenues of publicly held biotech companies have grown dramatically but their profits have hovered close to zero. The process does an excellent job of ensuring that decisions are based on scientific merit, but reviewers tend to award grants to projects within their own disciplines. Such knowledge cannot be fully described in writing, because the cause-and-effect principles behind the techniques or know-how have not been completely identified.