A Three Part Series in Biobank Business Planning
By Lisa B Miranda, President and Chief Executive Officer, Biobusiness Consulting Incorporated
Forward-looking market statements tout biobanking as a burgeoning and bountiful global market. For example, the company Vision Gain published in September 2014 that “the biobank world market will reach $22.7 billion in 2018. In particular, rising demand for biobanked samples for use by pharmaceutical companies in preclinical research stimulates that market.” Despite the potential business opportunity for biobank growth and market expansion, economic viability remains a prevalent pressing issue for biobanks globally.
So, why aren’t all biobanks thriving if the market earning potential is there? Well, that is a longer conversation. However, the short answer, based on my expertise, is that the biobanks who are thriving are doing so because they are readily implementing key business success factors into daily practice.
Based on a review of sustainability case studies I conducted last fall, the first of these critical success factors is the recognition that sustainability is a legitimate imminent financial concern. No one is immune. Longevity is not necessarily an indicator of sustainability. It’s not unreasonable to say this because in today’s economic climate, we observe both notable well established as well as new biobanks dealing with sustainability issues. As John F. Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
Once you recognize that sustainability is crucial, time is off the essence. Proactive strategic planning is imperative and should follow the same logic as beginning your retirement planning: it’s never too early. The sooner you make a financial roadmap, the better.
In fact, in some cases new biobanks may be able to be more agile and adaptive in this regard, since their business model and infrastructure may not be predetermined and thereby malleable. This is particularly true for implementation of a cost recovery model. As many Biobank Directors will convey it can be problematic to successfully recover costs for a sample, product and/or service if it was historically provided free of charge. It also can be more difficult to identify and understand cost components later. In an economic survey of over 100 biobanks last year conducted for a client we found this to be true. Web based applications (e.g. US NIH/NCI BBRB biobank economic modeling tool (the BEMT) and CTRNET user fee calculator) can be useful tools for positive steps towards developing an informed model for cost recovery.
Driving culture change around financial planning can be crucially expedited by securing organizational support and commitment to devote resources towards evaluating the need to do things more sustainably. This can often be a catch-22 situation however as one often needs to show a reasonable business plan, market value and/or a path to impact to garner unwavering support. The work is worth it though as biobanks with organizations that support a culture of change towards cost recovery and sustainable development typically experience compounded success in this area.
I can relay happily that this is a valid observation from my past life as a Core Facility Director. I also see this frequently firsthand with the organizations I work with, both public and private. These issues are not necessarily sector-specific - they merely present differently. My first attempt at a business plan in Academia for my bioresource required a second revision, but it was well worth the time. And looking back dozens of business plans later, I try to use those lessons learned with clients in real time. And as Mark Sanborn so wisely said, "Your success in life isn't based on your ability to simply change. It is based on your ability to change faster than your competition, customers and business."
Tune in June 30th for part two of the series when we discuss how “conscious commercialization” is another critical factor for success in business planning.
About the Author:
Lisa Miranda is President & Chief Executive Officer of Biobusiness Consulting Incorporated, a biobanking and biotechnology commercialization advisory with global reach based in the Greater Boston Area. She has 25 years of experience, complimented with 14 years of higher education including nine years of graduate study at the University of Pennsylvania. She began her career in clinical care and community based research and then moved to clinical and epidemiology research. She spent over 14 years in research at the University of Pennsylvania conducting clinical and investigator initiated trials to bring new drugs and clinical therapies to market, testing and helping develop emerging medical/surgical technologies, diagnostic devices and evaluating novel biotechniques. In 2005 she launched and directed her first core facility a biospecimen resource for UPENN called TTAB. Recruited for her first consulting job in 2007 as a contractor for the United States National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute’s Biorepositories and Biospecimens Research Branch (BBRB), she expanded her consulting practice full time in 2008. Known worldwide as a biobanking and clinical research subject matter expert, much of her work focuses on biobank business planning, strategic development of biospecimen research applications and biotechnology commercialization. Prior biobanking and biotechnology commercialization. Executive positions have included Vice President, Strategy and Business Development for MEMS based Biotechnology Company Bluechiip, Vice President, Strategic Alliances and International Biobank Relations, Trans-Hit Biomarkers, and Technical Director, Tumor Tissue and Biospecimen Bank Core Facility, UPENN). For more information email Lisa: email@example.com or download her 2014 podcast on the future of biobanking.
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