The techbio industry is accelerating clinical research with many companies now seeking to scale up and commercialise their innovations. Across both financings and alliances, the UK is second only to the US for techbio deal-making over the last 18 months*.
The evolution of the industry has recently been globally recognised with a Nobel Prize award. In October 2023, professors Katalin Kariko (Szeged University, Hungary) and Drew Weissman (University of Pennsylvania, US) were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their research that led to the development of effective vaccines against COVID-19.
Techbios can leverage their data driven technology to transform the clinical trial landscape in the UK, a topic that has had increased attention since the release of the Lord O’Shaughnessy report in May 2023.
Their innovations have the potential to improve patient health worldwide, however there are still several barriers to overcome in terms of accessing financial investment, coherent data, regulatory frameworks, and talent pools. As a CRO, PHARMExcel understands the evolving clinical trial landscape, having provided clinical research services to academic and commercial trials for over 14 years.
Here at PHARMExce, we are starting to see the exciting integration of techbios with the biotech world, and are working hard with our sponsors to help their innovations reach their true potential during the clinical trial stage including:
From our recent involvement with the Biotech Industry Association (BIA) and working with start-ups, we’ve put together seven practical considerations that a techbio looking to scale up should take into account:
To gain a better understanding and establish access to the marketplace, techbios need to engage in comprehensive market research, including both competitor analysis and customer segmentation, as well as ensuring compliance with healthcare regulations. By networking and building strong partnerships, techbios can access valuable industry knowledge and resources.
It is also imperative to remain at the forefront of technological advances. This can be done by prioritising continuous innovation and data management.
Understanding the technological innovations and data-driven tools that you bring to the life sciences sector will determine what makes your technology different from existing solutions. This could involve proprietary algorithms, advanced data analysis techniques, or unique data sources. The next step would be to engage in a competitor analysis and understand what other companies are offering. Identify gaps or weaknesses in their solutions that your technology can address to identify your value proposition.
Once your value proposition is clear, you can showcase real-world results and case studies to demonstrate the impact of your technology. Highlighting success stories, such as improved research outcomes, faster drug discovery, or more accurate diagnostics will form the foundation for a clear and compelling value proposition that can be communicated effectively to potential clients, investors, and partners.
In a field where vast and diverse data sources and regulatory requirements are extensive, standardisation plays a critical role in streamlining processes, ensuring data accuracy, facilitating collaboration, and enabling cost-effective scaling efforts. Therefore, a lack of standardisation can present a challenge for techbio companies looking to scale up.
By incorporating standardisation into your strategic planning, techbios can create roadmaps that ensure alignment with industry standards, data protocols, and regulatory compliance practices, reducing risks during scaling efforts. Additionally, acknowledging this challenge encourages collaboration with industry stakeholders, enabling collective efforts to develop and adopt standards that benefit the entire sector.
Recognising the challenge presented by the lack of data integration in the techbio industry is instrumental in helping companies scale up effectively. It enables these companies to focus on specific areas where data integration is most crucial for their growth, guiding resource allocation and investment priorities.
Additionally, acknowledging the importance of data integration ensures compliance with regulatory requirements, reducing the risk of compliance issues as companies expand their operations. Efforts to promote data standardisation and secure sharing are crucial to overcoming this industry-wide frustration.
Access to skilled personnel spanning from innovative engineers and research scientists to experienced professionals in regulatory affairs, quality control, business development, sales, and operations, forms a critical element in the scale up process. Skilled talent drives innovation, ensures regulatory compliance, maintains product quality, expands market reach, and efficiently manages operations. It is important to have expertise at every level.
Additionally, a well-rounded and talented team is essential for adaptability, problem-solving, and attracting further talent, ultimately contributing to the company’s growth, success, and impact in the techbio sector.
Growth capital is a vital driver for the scaling up of techbios. The techbio sector requires substantial financial resources for advancing clinical trials, expanding research and development, and upgrading manufacturing facilities. Once access to funding has been found, techbio companies can begin to scale up their operations.
With more resources at their disposal, techbio companies can attract top talent, build state-of-the-art research facilities, and embark on ambitious product development. This not only accelerates the path to market but also enhances their capabilities, reputation, and overall impact in the biotech sector.
While large amounts of capital has been invested into a few select companies, the industry needs more investors to come to the table who understand the capital, time, and regulation-intensive process it takes to bring medicine to market and are willing to accept the risk that it may not even pay off.
Specialist scientific facilities, such as those on some of the UK bioscience parks, can provide techbios with essential infrastructure and resources.
Techbio companies require state-of-the-art laboratories, equipment, and research facilities to conduct experiments, develop new products, and advance clinical trials.
Business support in the form of mentoring, networking opportunities, and access to growth capital can help these companies navigate the complex biotech landscape, secure funding, and forge partnerships.
With the emphasis to secure the UK as a world class destination for clinical research and the big waves AI is making, techbios will play an increasingly important role in the development of the life science industry. As a relatively new sector, these innovative companies must consider many factors, such as understanding their market position, accessing and employing skilled workers, and sourcing growth capital to ensure they succeed. By reflecting on these points, techbios can overcome the challenges they are faced with and continue to grow, driving new opportunities and delivering life-saving therapies to patients.
PHARMExcel is an award-winning, full-service Contract Research Organisation (CRO) providing a flexible and innovative approach to clinical trial delivery. The company is recognised for its in-depth knowledge and experience of the clinical research environment, particularly in the UK, and has a network of regulatory and industry associates, allowing it to provide a global reach.
Katie Howe, Head of Marketing
T: +44 (0)20 3642 6654
*Source: Steve Bates, CEO, BIA
**Photo Credit: Peggy Peterson Photography for Penn Medicine
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