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Business Development and Building the Relationship After BIO

June 16, 2015
Luigie LaCorte, GSKThere is a great energy here at BIO, and you can feel it as you walk through the Business Forum and see everyone talking, sharing information, and exchanging business cards.  Nowhere else do you feel that buzz of excitement that comes from sharing innovative ideas and knowing the person you are speaking with feels the same.  But what happens next?  BIO is just the beginning. What happens after BIO is just as important as making that initial contact.  Here is what I have learned as part of Worldwide Business Development at GSK to make the most of those business cards after BIO.

Focus on creating a relationship – not landing a deal. Building a relationship takes time, so don’t wait to follow-up on those contacts.  At GSK, we form partnerships and collaborations based on mutual interest and trust.  So be ready to invest the time and effort it will take to nurture and develop the relationship – remember, the collaboration starts long before there is ever a signed contract and press release.  Have a sense of respect and admiration for the wealth of ideas and resources represented on both sides of the conversation.

Think long-term, and engage early and often. You may be thinking strictly about collaboration in a certain therapeutic area or technology, but I encourage you to think long-term beyond your immediate need here at BIO. Hold on to those business cards and think beyond the contact. For example, GSK has a team of business development professionals representing areas across our company. While we are particularly focused on certain therapeutic areas, our partnering interests are not limited to those specific areas – we truly want to hear about great science.

That leads to one more point – focus on great science – it’s the heart of everything. After BIO, be prepared to remind those contacts of what makes your asset, idea, or opportunity more compelling than the thousands of other ideas they have heard about during BIO. The days of blockbuster medicines may be gone. For GSK, the value creation point is the moment a patient receives the medicine and gets the benefit. The proof is in our relationships. We have 40 external relationships focused on just pre-proof of concept assets, and we really do embrace collaboration to the fullest extent. The relationships we’ve established cover a diversity of institutions from academia to biotech to VCs and embrace a deep range of deal types from in-licensing to collaborative research and development.

Finally, be flexible and creative – plan for the relationship, not signing a contract. Don’t toss those business cards that seem less promising – with some creativity and flexibility, those relationships could be a diamond in the rough. Look beyond what is on paper, and remain focused on the mutual benefit that is possible. GSK has a long history of creativity and flexibility when it comes to deal-making – in fact, we’ve made a number of ground-breaking announcements here at BIO with our partner, Avalon Ventures, demonstrating our continued focus on creativity, innovation, and externalization.

So let me close by saying keep those business cards. It’s just the start of what may be a great relationship. Visit the GSK suite at the Business Forum to find out more about GSK, our approach to collaboration, and to meet some of our team.