The Swiss HLG, a non-profit association of Business Development and Licensing professionals, held its 31st  Conference titled “DEAL-MAKING IN THE ROUGH”, in a beautiful setting in the Swiss Alps. The topic of discussion focused on the fact we are living in provoking times: The pharmaceutical and biotech industry as a whole and the professional business developers, alliance managers and dealmakers have to cope with a disruptive and changing environment in which deal making will become more and more complex and ambitious. 

Over two and a half days, more than 85 delegates from Switzerland, Europe, the US and Asia gathered in the Swiss Alps to explore and discuss new trends in partnering and deal-making in the current tumult of our industry with the overall objective to capture the maximum value with professional capabilities and high-calibre talents.

Conference Director, Christoph Sarry with the support of the Swiss HLG Board, joined by a panel of international delegates – leading experts from the healthcare and consumer industry addressed four main conference streams:

  • The impact of a challenging business environment on BD&L and alliance management,
  • The new value chain caused by disruptive technologies and related consequences for partnering,
  • The impact of new entrants apart from the conventional pharmaceutical industry shown by interesting company cases,
  • New requirements for capabilities and talent management for BD&L professionals.

As pre-conference activity Giuseppe Conti, Creator of Master Negotiator at CABL, held a workshop on Creativity in Negotiation. In his course, he emphasized that negotiation is practical skills and that there is always room to get better. A perfectly orchestrated role play with video debrief pulled participants out of their comfort zone and encouraged them to use their negotiation skills to reach agreement in creative ways.

The conference started with two opening keynote speeches from Ingmar Hoerr, Founder and Chairman of Curevac, and Emily Leproust, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Twist Bioscience. Ingmar explained the process of potential therapeutic proteins encoded on mRNA and that such mRNA sequences can be printed out in a GMP miniature RNA synthesizer within days. In contrast, Emily explored with us some secrets of synthetic DNA; e.g. its use as diagnostic tests, protein therapeutics as well as storage medium for digital data; all to enable customers to improve health and sustainability.

The next two days focused on new trends in partnering and deal-making in the current tumult. We heard about the disruptive business environment and global trends in the healthcare sector, discussed new challenges coming from China and the impact on regulatory requirements.

We also learned about the revolution in drug discovery driven by artificial intelligence, debated the potential evolution of the market place through digital therapeutics, named new measures to accelerate access to external innovation and explored creative ideas of pricing of breakthrough medicines.

Some excellent case studies were presented showing the business development experience of a typical Biotech, highlighting learnings from alliance management topics and delivering insights from a VC company. Finally, a panel discussed therequirements for people capabilities and talent management for BD professionals.

The closing keynote, delivered by Walter Oberhänsli, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Zur Rose Group, demonstrated the disruptive model of Europe’s biggest online pharmacy, which is and will be a huge challenge for all parties in the distribution chain of pharmaceuticals.

The Swiss HLG Board thanks all presenters as well as the participants for the lively discussion and interactions. Please find below some images from the conference. (Please click on the image to view it in its entirety and or a slide show.)

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