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How to become globally competitive

Here Gunilla Osswald from BioArctic share her experience of scaling up and be competative on the global arena.

 Great science, skilled scientists and understanding what big pharma needs are key to BioArctic’s success.

At the end of 2018, I was very pleased to announce that BioArctic had outlicensed its alpha-synuclein antibody portfolio for Parkinson’s disease and other potential indications to AbbVie. This demonstrates that it is possible for an agile Swedish biopharma company to be competitive on the global arena.

When I joined BioArctic in 2013, the company already had experience from partnering with big pharma. BioArctic had entered into a partnership in Alzheimer’s disease with Eisai in 2005 where BAN2401 reported positive Phase 2b results during 2018. One of my objectives was to find the “dream partner” in Parkinson’s disease. I drew up a focused action plan which included participation at international and local partnering events, increased networking activities and building relations with potential partners. This led to that a strategic partnering process was initiated with several potential partners. In September 2016, we announced the collaboration with AbbVie, an alliance with the purpose to develop the leading alpha-synuclein antibody as a disease-modifying treatment to improve the lives of Parkinson’s disease patients. Two years later, AbbVie exercised the option to license the portfolio, which triggered a milestone payment of MUSD 50 to BioArctic. The total value of the license agreement is up to MUSD 755, plus royalties. Previously MUSD 80 have been received.

What are the keys to success? In this case our great science, solid experience of pre-clinical research and drug development together with our understanding of AbbVie’s needs and expectations were fundamental. Our insight into how a big company works also helped and contributed to a positive spirit across the company’s teams. This in combination with our committed and skilled scientists delivering high quality and meeting deadlines created trust and respect. 

What about the challenges? The scope was extremely challenging with tight deadline. I realized that the scientists had the best insight into what the team needed, so I kept on saying: ”Delivering is the only option. Tell me what you need.” Then, I secured the critical resources and competences. We recruited new employees and consultants and kept on encouraging a strong culture of curiosity and innovation with delivery focus.

What happens now? AbbVie will progress the most advanced product candidate BAN0805, now ABBV-0805, into clinical development with the first clinical study planned to start in 2019.

I am looking forward to a continued rewarding collaboration with AbbVie. BioArctic will continue to deliver activities in line with the on-going collaboration agreement, at the same times as we are developing our projects with substantial out-licensing and market potentials in line with our business model and strategy.

Advice on export (Exportrådet) is a collaboration between Life Science Sweden and Swedenbio where experiences are shared about export and international trading. 

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