For biotech entrepreneurs there is no arguing that the biotech industry has entered a new era.
The biotech market is more informed and demanding now not just for great science, but for proof of effectiveness from biotech entrepreneurs in the form of improved health outcomes at economically viable prices.
In addition, the availability of data, ever growing role of AI, ubiquity of cloud capabilities, advances in health-related Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices and birth of blockchain technology, combined with extraordinary advances in science, are resulting in new biotech products and solutions that are more relevant and more powerful than ever before in the history of medical science.
Studies on Artificial intelligence in particular indicate that AI is already proving to have massive benefits in Pharmaceuticals and drug discovery.
That’s because when AI attuned to the task of drug creation, it can go through combinations of chemicals exponentially faster than a human researcher.
In fact, data shows that worldwide spending on cognitive and AI systems will hit $52.2 billion by 2021.
All of these factors are contributing to a complex ecosystem for the biotech industry and as a result, this demands for biotech entrepreneurs with certain skill sets.
A biotech entrepreneur is usually an accomplished scientist, bioengineer, physician, or business person.
Most often, but not always, they have a PhD, MD, MBA, or combination of these educational backgrounds.
These individuals usually voluntarily leave their well-paying and secure positions and venture into an industry that carries uncertainties and risks.
Let’s look at some of the characteristics of successful biotech entrepreneurs.
Biotech Entrepreneurs Have Vision
Successful biotech entrepreneurs tend to have unusual foresight; they can imagine innovative products and solutions to problems.
They also have the driving desire and discipline to follow through on their vision and this helps keep the fire burning over the course of many years, which is typically how long it takes to develop a new biotechnology or therapy.
They Understand the Industry and its Challenges
A biotechnology enterprise creates a business of scientific uncertainty and this is one of the challenges that biotech entrepreneurs normally face.
The product development process, for instance, contains unpredictable biological and technical risks.
As a result, true biotech entrepreneurs are always prepared for an extraordinarily long product development timeframe.
The average time to reach commercialization for biologics, drugs, and other types of therapeutics can sometimes take upwards of 15 years to reach the market.
Diagnostics, medical devices, and molecular tests can range from 3 to 7 years and not to mention the financial risks involved.
To develop a biotechnology product, biotech entrepreneurs must secure large amounts of capital over many years, even decades, to complete development.
This normally ranges from as little as $50 million, to hundreds of millions of dollar, depending on the type of product to be developed.
There are also regulatory as well as market risks.
Even after a product receives approval from a regulatory body which normally takes time, a biotech company then faces an untested and unproven market for a product that most likely never existed before.
A true biotech entrepreneur knows how to manage all these challenges without giving up.
They are highly flexible and digital
As the digital revolution continues to accelerate and expand at a rapid pace, entrepreneurs are grappling with emerging technologies, fuelling simultaneous disruptions across all aspects of the enterprise.
The transition from an industrial economy that favoured mass production and scale, to a digital economy that favours information, is challenging the very nature of what it means to be a successful biotech enterprise.
What made a high performer in the 20th century is fundamentally different from what is required to secure competitive advantage in the 21st century.
According to Cliff Justice, Innovation & enterprise Solutions and leader of Intelligent Automation initiatives, KPMG in the U.S.– “Assessing opportunities to train the existing workforce to be future ready is critical for digital first companies.
The workforce of the future is being redefined to free up resources and focus on innovation and growth.
Developments in intelligent automation are dramatically driving down processing costs, sometimes by as much as 75%, while improving speed, accuracy and control.”
One of the characteristics of a successful biotech entrepreneur is his/her ability to respond quickly to change and this is critical to the future success of the organization.
He/she will strategically assess the environment, the market, and the opportunity for changes especially when it comes to the ever changing technological landscape.
By focusing on utilizing various technologies such as IoT, AI, cloud computing, robotics technology, Big Data, blockchain, among others biotech organizations can be more lean, agile, and responsive.
This will enable for the creation of a ‘digital’ biotech enterprise that is built on institutional knowledge with machine learning technologies to ultimately produce a more customer-focused business model, with 24/7 automation drawing on data and applying prescriptive analytics across the organization.
Speedier decision making, lower costs, increased efficiencies, and improved user and customer experiences will be the outcome.
A case in point is TransCelerate, a non-profit consortium of major biopharma companies that is focused on “simplifying and accelerating” the research and development of innovative new therapies.
They are leveraging technology to speed up their R&D programs to ultimately improve patient care while reducing time-to-market.
In Biotechnology Entrepreneurship You Have to be Persistent
Thomas Edison remarked, when asked about his numerous unsuccessful attempts to find the perfect filament for the light bulb, “I never failed once, it just happened to be a 2,000-step process.” A biotech entrepreneur knows that the difference between success and failure is just holding on a little longer.
During the product development lifecycle, you may encounter challenges like dealing with regulatory bodies such as FDA but a successful biotech entrepreneur will not draw back and retreat.
Retreat shows up in various ways such as shortening your work hours, avoiding decision-making, lack of confidence, apathy, shirking responsibilities, and limited communication with your team.
So do you have what it takes to be a successful biotech entrepreneur? Only true biotech entrepreneurs can start a biotech company or life science company; they do not only just see problems, but envision an endless number of solutions to any given situation (considering that many of these require resources not available, or it may have never been done before).
Any other personality type would be too cautious, too analytical and too practical.
Yes, the biotech entrepreneurs must still possess similar attributes as all other entrepreneurs do and this include- independence, confidence, a desire to work long hours, unrelenting persistence, and willingness to take risks.