The Current State of Partnering

May 12, 2022

By Gauri Nair, Ph.D., VP of Innovation, MassBio

The Massachusetts biotech cluster is largely made up of small and emerging companies that are making big bets on risky, cutting-edge science. Much of this innovation comes out of academia and companies are now going earlier and earlier to find disruptive technologies and sometimes fund bespoke technologies in labs. External innovation is the driving force behind new drug development and the starting point for those partnerships is creating networks and relationships. A core piece of MassBio’s strategic vision is finding ways to connect those innovators with established life sciences companies and investors.

Before 2020, MassBio had supported early-stage innovation through its in-person Pharma Days® partnering events and initiatives. These in-person events accelerated interactions between startups and small biotechs in the Massachusetts life science cluster with big pharma and other players in the industry. Since 2010, MassBio has facilitated more than 1,000 connections between emerging entrepreneurs and established biopharmaceutical companies through its partnering programs. 

The life science industry came together in unprecedented ways during the COVID-19 pandemic and made a tremendous global impact. Partnerships were brokered between competitors that saw the speedy development of vaccines and therapeutics. 2021 was an exciting time for dealmaking and VC investments in Massachusetts. COVID-19 taught us that business development and licensing activities can thrive in a virtual environment and can be more efficient and effective.

 In response, MassBio reimagined its partnering events to continue this important convening that advances science and discoveries. There were two partnering weeks held in 2021 and the format evolved, with each day of the Partnering Week dedicated to a pharma/ biotech sponsor. The Virtual Sponsor Broadcast every morning outlined the strategic R&D and partnering priorities of the sponsoring company and was followed by virtual partnering meetings with MassBio member companies that aligned with the sponsor’s partnering priorities. Both 2021 Partnering Weeks were a resounding success. 

Building on last year’s success, I am happy to announce A State of Partnering Week 2022 is happening September 19-23. We are pleased to announce that AstraZeneca, EMD Serono and Takeda will be among our sponsors for Partnering Week. It will be a hybrid event where we retain the flexibility and the wider audience impact of a virtual event but address the need of our sponsor companies to build upon and strengthen their connections. There will be an in-person networking event on September 20, 2022 at the MassBioHub. The partnering meetings with MassBio member companies, including highly innovative early-stage startups from MassBioDrive – MassBio’s life sciences accelerator program – will be hybrid, with in-person and fully virtual options. We are finalizing the finishing touches and will have more details for you in the coming weeks.

MassBio’s Partnering Weeks and Pharma Days® present a tapestry of opportunities for anyone seeking a pharma/ biotech partnership. If you are a biotech or pharma company and would like to learn more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact the MassBio Innovation team.

MassBio mission is to catalyze productive and positive connections between innovation creators and innovation seekers. In addition to programming such as partnering events for innovation seekers, we also deeply understand the importance and value of building and fostering industry-academia partnerships. We are developing programming to advance technologies from “bench to bedside,” one of them being our reimagined accelerator, MassBioDrive, for early-stage startups whose inaugural cohort has been a great success. We had an impressive review board to help us pick the best companies from applicants around the globe and the five spring cohort startups had their Demo Day last week, where they pitched to a room full of VCs, pharma companies, and other potential investors and collaborators. Applications for the Fall cohort of MassBioDrive will open on May 31, 2022, and we hope to see some great applications from startups!  

We also have an NCI-MassBio event on SBIR/STTR grant applications on June 29, 2022. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks on upcoming partnering events and programming for innovators. To sign up for MassBio’s email newsletters, create an account on the MassBio website. You can also follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

We look forward to seeing you at our next MassBio Innovation event!

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