Boston Consulting Group have announced the results of their latest "Biotech and Pharma Partnering Study". Subtitled "Partnering in a new era of challenged expectations" it highlights some of the trends in licensing that have emerged in the wake of the financial crisis.
With fewer exits available, biotechs and their investors are increasingly dependent on pharma deals to realise value. This has translated into a growing emphasis on the part of licensors for partners that offer hard capabilities such as sales & marketing expertise, clinical capabilities and even manufacturing capabilities. There was a corresponding decline in the importance of soft factors such as 'fit with corporate culture' and the importance of licensees being responsive, easy to work with and good at managing alliances.
Companies that have previously been perceived as lower performers in partnering exhibit the most positive growth in perceptions - possibly due to the need to stand out in the fierce competition for quality assets - while the large players remain relatively fixed. While the major players have maintained their good reputations, they do not have a marked advantage in partnering attributes as hard-headed licensors look at capabilities over culture in choosing a partner. Other sites to have chewed over the results include In Vivo Blog and Fierce Biotech.
Overall, the top 'buy-side' licensees identified by the BCG survey are largely unchanged from previous years: Merck, Roche, GSK, Lilly and Novartis make up the top five along with Celgene as a new entrant. This is similar to the results of IBM's "Life Science Partnering" survey published in December 2010. The order of the remaining 20 major licensees included in the survey is not revealed, a sensible precaution given that many of the companies are involved with BCG in the survey process.