With funding dwindling, how can biotech companies maintain momentum?

Discovery Life Sciences
By Glenn Bilawsky, CEO
Tuesday, 06 December, 2022

With funding dwindling, how can biotech companies maintain momentum?

With a potential recession on the horizon, biotechnology companies are seeing funding sources drying up. As a result, many are extremely capitally constrained and are resorting to cost-cutting measures.

Some are laying off staff and shutting down facilities, while others are reducing forward-looking investments such as new product development and site expansions. However, these actions put companies at risk of permanently falling behind other market leaders.

Large and small organisations alike must find creative ways to leverage their assets and opportunities to continue moving forward. Partnering with biopharmaceutical outsourcing companies gives drug and diagnostic developers the ability to apply advanced tools for drug discovery, analysis and quality control without making capital investments they cannot afford.

Cutting costs in the wrong places leads to setbacks

In the current ‘golden age of biotechnology’, companies need to demonstrate consistent innovation to stay competitive and fulfil their mission — and this is no less true in a recession. Some companies try to maintain research and manufacturing momentum but slash costs by cutting corners, but this strategy can waste resources in the long term.

For example, operating understaffed facilities or using outdated equipment can increase the likelihood of generating insufficient or low-quality data about products in a biopharmaceutical pipeline. This could lead a company to invest precious resources in a product that ultimately fails due to toxicities or other issues that could have been identified with more thorough preclinical analysis. Even for successful products, bad data can slow down regulatory approvals, potentially causing missed profits.

Fortunately, there’s a way to reduce in-house investments without a negative impact on one’s product pipeline. Research service providers can obtain high-quality data for biopharmaceutical projects and offer expert insights and big-picture perspective for interpreting that data and moving forward.

Use top-notch technologies without buying new instruments

Identifying the most promising drug candidates as quickly as possible and streamlining testing is the key to maintaining innovation and productivity while being financially prudent. Some ‘quick kills’ can be eliminated from pipelines easily based on severe toxicities or other obvious failures, but drug and diagnostic developers need more nuanced tools to decide between projects that appear to have potential viability. Outsourcing partners bring the latest technology and scientific knowledge to the table to aid in rapid decision-making.

Especially in areas like oncology and immunology, using ultrasensitive tools for biomarker identification can suggest promising therapeutic targets in the development phase and select ideal treatment populations to limit costs in the already-expensive clinical trial phase. Cutting-edge capabilities to look for include long read sequencing, epigenomic analysis and single cell sequencing. Using the latest multi-omic technologies allows for analysis that goes deeper than the genetic level, giving pharmacodynamic information that spans proteomics, transcriptomics and more.

Leading biopharmaceutical research service providers purchase these instruments and assays as soon as they hit the market, meaning that their scientific teams are among the most adept in applying each technology across a wide range of projects. Therefore, using these services not only minimises upfront capital expenditures on equipment but also limits the need to hire expert staff for specific projects.

Even for innovators who do have advanced technologies in-house, partnering with research service providers can be beneficial. Working with a vendor that has equally advanced tools and expertise creates the option of completing multiple projects or phases in parallel without sacrificing quality.

What to look for in a research partner

Not all research service providers are created equal — some may not deliver the benefits touted above. Once a partnership has been established, it can be frustrating and time-consuming to transition projects to a new vendor, so it is worth making an informed choice the first time. Key factors to consider when choosing a biopharmaceutical outsourcing partner include:

  • One-stop shop — While it may seem tempting to shop around and cobble together the most inexpensive options for each outsourced stage of a project, coordinating with multiple vendors introduces inefficiencies and can make it difficult to compile data for eventual regulatory submissions. A partner with end-to-end capabilities will be able to provide holistic insights and streamline projects, potentially introducing additional savings.
  • Industry knowledge — Along similar lines, established partners with diverse teams of scientific experts will bring an end-to-end understanding of the biopharmaceutical development, manufacturing and regulatory approval process. This allows them to make better recommendations and deliver data in the most useful formats.
  • Technology access and expertise — Ideal outsourcing partners are industry leaders with high exposure to multiple research areas, so they are among the first to work with the latest technologies in every field. Having the tools is only half the battle — knowing how to use them well is just as important.
  • Established track record — Organisations should be able to demonstrate that they complete projects on time, on budget and with the highest quality.
  • Collaboration — Innovators establishing relationships with vendors sometimes feel like they have to be cautious and protect their intellectual property, but this hinders partners’ ability to add value by offering insights rather than simply executing individual tasks as assigned. A good research partnership should involve both parties side by side in the laboratory, sharing data and information throughout study design, biomarker development and beyond.

Weathering the storm to serve patients

Amidst financial struggles, patient needs don’t become any less urgent. To continue serving their communities and delivering treatments to those who need them most, organisations in the biopharmaceutical industry need to work together — innovators and outsourcing vendors alike. Pooling resources and combining expertise maximises impact, limiting the effects of financial dry spells, supply chain issues and other challenges.

Image credit: iStock.com/ChristianChan

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