The SDBN Buzz is intended to connect scientists and entrepreneurs in the San Diego Biotech community while showing the world the exciting work happening here.
Online Marketplaces and Multiple Value Propositions
This episode was originally published on Life Science Marketing Radio.
Scientist.com is an online marketplace where pharmaceutical companies can quickly source projects for almost every stage of their research, without having to go through a long bid and negotiation process.
I talked to Mark Herbert, Chief Business Officer, about the value propositions for both sides in an online marketplace and how they had to overcome resistance to internal procurement departments.
Why it works: They have done a lot of the routine work up front to make it easy for buyers and sellers. Contracts are standardized (although customization is allowed) and suppliers are well vetted for legal and regulatory compliance.
Value for clients — enabled to keep projects moving quickly, especially during a disruptive pandemic
Value for suppliers — the ability to directly market niche services to a buyer looking for your specific services.
Key takeaway: For me, it was the idea of “how do you sell a service that seems to compete with an internal resource?” In this case, it was helping procurement officers to elevate their jobs and work more strategically as opposed to the idea of replacing them.
Mark on LinkedIn
Science and Investment Are Dancing - Who Leads?
In a competitive biotech world, being first to market has advantages. This means you can't always wait for a product to be approved or at least show promise before investing in manufacturing capability.
What happens when the science leads in a different direction? This is the conversation I had with Mark Gergen, President, and Chief Business Officer at Poseida Therapeutics, Inc.
Poseida is a platform company working on cell and gene therapies. We talked about the science, which is interesting and then also the investment strategy.
"The scientific advancements can outpace the pace of development of a specific product... ...In that case, you really need to think about changing the technology you're using to develop those products." - Mark Gergen
If you've invested millions of dollars in a manufacturing process it can be hard to change directions.
Mark shared how Poseida has prepared for their near term manufacturing needs as well as a longer term scenario when newer products will replace their 1st generation products.
Mark's articles on LinkedIn.
Changing the Rules of the Game in Gene Therapy
Genetic Editing: A Revelation Followed by An Evolution
Genetic Engineering: It’s Harder Than It Sounds
The Biotech Super-Collider: Science vs. Investment
Harnessing the Full Power of the Immune System in Cancer Care
Unconventional. Innovative. Disruptive. Unapologetic.
Produced by Comprendia LLC and Life Science Marketing Radio
Turning Greenhouse Gas into Biodegradable Foodware
If you could capture greenhouse gases like CO2 or methane and turn them into usable products, what would you make?
There are a few challenges here. Which gas would you choose? What source would you use? And what market would you serve?
This episode answers all of those questions.
I interviewed Mark Herrema, CEO of Newlight Technologies about AirCarbon, a material also known as PHB (Polyhydroxybutyrate).
You probably know that cows produce methane (by burping, it turns out - not the way you thought.) And methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. While it comes from cows, there are easier ways to collect it, like digesters.
Certain bacteria can use it to produce PHB, a compound found in many environments that can be melted and shaped into products like foodware (disposable utensils) or a leather replacement for the fashion industry. Other bacteria can produce it with CO2 as a starting point.
Wherever it comes from, if it ends up in the ocean (don't throw your waste in there) it degrades quickly because the environment already "understands it".
I found this interview fascinating from both a science and a startup perspective. Definitely give this one a listen.
Produced by Comprendia LLC and Life Science Marketing Radio
How Does a New Biotech Company Successfully Launch Its First Product?
After many years with a focus on R&D, how does a biotech company then launch its first product with no track record in the market, no established relationships while essentially launching the company as a commercial operation at the same time?
Frank Dolan, CEO of Arsenal Advisors, has been there and done that three times. In this episode, he talks about the ways you can possibly fail, and based on his experience, what has worked in terms of building trust in the marketplace including patients, providers and payers.
Showing up to start that relationship with a customer when you finally have something to sell, I think is a way to possibly fail because there's no trust. And depending on how competitive that market space is. Do customers have a reason to believe your message? Do they have a reason to believe that if they have a problem with the product, that they can count on you? can they count on your messaging to be truthful?
We covered a range of topics from how to connect with patient communities and the value of listening to measuring (or at least estimating) the ROI of upfront activity before revenue starts flowing.
EVENT: Reimagine BioPharma
Frank on LinkedIn
What is a Sales Agent and Do You Need One?
I met Owen Swift at an online networking event. I didn't know what a sales agent was or why a company would choose to use one, so I invited him to the podcast to explain it to all of us.
A sales agent is essentially the same as a manufacturer's rep. It differs from a distributor in that he gets paid a commission on the price of a sale as opposed to marking up and reselling products or services from the manufacturer.
Owen explained to me the advantages for a company as well as himself as a salesperson as well as under what scenarios this model works best.
He points out that it's not an either/or decision. A company might have a full time salesperson in one territory and an agent in another. It gives flexibility to companies trying to grow in different areas without taking on full time employees.
You should definitely give this one a listen.
Swift Scientific LLC
Owen on LinkedIn
Achieving Racial Equity in Biotech
It won't be a surprise to you that Blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented in the the San Diego biotech community. There are probably many reasons why that is and just as many ways to address it.
Jonathan Wosen recently reported on the disparity in the San Diego Union Tribune. Before becoming a writer, he earned a PhD in Immunology from Stanford. Our conversation just scratches the surface of this important issue.
Jonathan's article references the experience of Paul Mola, CEO of Roswell Technologies and a previous guest on this podcast. In addition to sharing his own experience as an African American scientist, Jonathan shared with me the experience of sitting in on an internal conversation Paul led at Roswell in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing. That part of our conversation seems a good example for many companies.
Here are a couple of other takeaways:
Starting these conversations can be hard. While I have long been aware of my own privilege, I only recently began to recognize the things I wouldn't have thought of in that context before. I am grateful to Jonathan for giving me permission to ask anything in our pre-interview. I could have been walking on eggshells, worried about saying something offensive out of ignorance (not knowing what I don't know). Without that permission, the conversation doesn't get started.
We also talked about mentorship. It's important for people to have mentors who look like them for sure. But that shouldn't stop anyone from being a mentor. And you don't need to be near retirement to mentor someone. You only need to be a little bit ahead. How awesome would it be to be a mentor and mentee at the same time?
I hope you'll give this a listen. Let's all do what we can to enure everyone gets a fair shot at contributing to this community.
Good Conversation for Biotech Humane Pros
Thank you for this podcast, Edwin Najera, Biological Physics, St. Mary’s University (TX.) and U. of Michigan (MI.).