Over the past decade, a new type of life science company has emerged. We call them Digital Biotechs.
Our raison d'etre is to create a community of Digital Biotechs and provide them a forum to share their innovations at the intersection of science and data. Below, we articulate their genesis, their characteristics, and why they are changing the industry.
As recently as twenty years ago, fundamental research was still done in industry. From major pharma companies would invest hundreds of millions of dollars in new science (e.g. catalysis, biology, chemistry, etc.) to identify compounds, disease pathways, and manufacturing techniques that would give them an edge. This vertically-integrated model enabled the development of tribal knowledge, deep competencies in certain areas, and the ability to amortize investments (e.g. personnel, equipment, etc.) over many projects.
This historical approach is juxtaposed with a shifting public and investment landscape. Over the past few years, the tenor of conversations about drug pricing have become more tense and aggressive. Markets want less costly medicines. Further, costs for developing new medicines have rapidly increased in the developed world. These trends, including downward pressure on prices combined with increased costs are exacerbated by fewer approvals year-over-year. These issues result in structural shift in how medicines are discovered and brought to market.
A new model emerges
As large pharma becomes more cost-conscious, much of their R&D spend has been diverted in two ways: i) outsourcing and ii) external collaborators. The impetus of (i) is to perform some of the same tasks (e.g. an assay) externally at substantially lower cost. For (ii), companies seek to gain access to earlier-stage, riskier treatments, or therapies in a new domain that may be too costly to pursue internally. Biotech entrepreneurs have chronicled these changes.
Enter the Digital Biotech
As this leaner, distributed model becomes more popular, we have observed the rise of a new type of life sciences company. We call them Digital Biotechs. The philosophy of a Digital Biotech is centered around three key characteristics.
Digital biotechs are...
- data driven
- collaborate externally
Whether you are a small research-stage biotech or a large commercial-stage biopharma, Digital Biotechs manifest everywhere. We hope that our discussions and events serve as a forum for those who are passionate about science and data.