Commercial innovation in biotech organisations

Natasha Cowan|13th March 2018

Blue Latitude Health speaks to Salma Jutt Vice President of US Marketing and Head of Commercial Innovation at a biotech specialising in treating weight loss and obesity.

How do you define a biotech company?

SJ: The definition of a biotech company is becoming broader as the overall life sciences industry evolves and organisations expand and contract. For many individual biotech companies, the construct can change over time – they may start out as a biotech but morph into something resembling a pharma company. This happens because of a need to expand research and development via in-licensing or through mergers and acquisitions. It can also depend on company size and stage from development to commercialisation.

 

What skills do you look for when hiring new employees?

SJ: There is a lot of ambiguity and risk when developing and commercialising biotech products. That presence of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) requires a certain type of individual who can thrive in a fluid environment, is able to rapidly make decisions, and is comfortable acting without all the information. Individuals need to be able to cope with this environment themselves and have the ability to establish strong leadership for others around them.

"Patient-centricity is no longer just about patients educating themselves”

 

What’s the ideal company culture for fostering innovation?

SJ: The company culture should foster and reward innovative behaviour. It cannot be punitive; people have to be allowed to take business risks and make mistakes. You can’t hire a team of people who want to make things happen, think innovatively and take perceived risks, and then fail to foster a rewarding and innovative environment. Many times, teams have to make decisions and take action without perfect information and data. Using your own experience and gathering input from colleagues is also important.

How is the role of the patient changing?

SJ: Patient-centricity is no longer just about patients educating themselves. It’s about patients living longer and demanding a healthier life and a higher quality of life, for a longer period of time. When a patient wants to access information, they grab their smart phone and look for instant gratification. Now the jump from awareness and consideration to conversion is much tighter, contracting the purchase time frame. We are all patients and consumers and we can grab our phones, make a purchase in minutes and have it delivered to our doorstep.

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