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Top Life Sciences Industry Trends To Watch For in 2021

blue dna

The life sciences industry is the umbrella term for companies, businesses, and research institutions dedicated to improving protection and improvement of human, animal, and natural life. It includes cell biology, biophysics, environmental sciences, biomedicine, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, nutraceuticals, neuroscience, and countless others. As you might imagine, this is a frontier that moves rapidly, constantly driven by change and technological advancements.

Looking ahead to 2021 indicates that the following trends will play a key role in shaping the life sciences industry:

Personalized medicine through advancements in genetics

As researchers continue to discover the genetic coding component of some conditions, the possibilities for personalizing medicine and healthcare procedures based on each person’s particular DNA information or other genome features become greater and more exciting.

Collaborative Innovation of Various Life Sciences Companies

In May of 2019, Arzeda, Twist Bioscience, Labcyte, and TeselaGen joined forces to create a state-of-the-art assembly platform for the DNA molecule. This is just one example of how highly collaborative the life sciences industry is, and what the possibilities are when health science organizations work together to push the boundaries of research and development.

Advancement of Drug Research

Smart technology will allow for better integration of data from assessment devices such as patient monitors, laboratory equipment, and MRI scans to more accurately prescribe medication for patients for more objective, evidence-based results.

Increased Volume of Life Sciences Research

In the field of precision surgery, studies connecting robotics to improve surgical methods are on the rise. Artificial intelligence can provide doctors insight in the most accurate treatment plans and which procedures will result in the best outcomes.

Increased Digitized Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Patients

Digital transformation has paved a way for better consumer access and improved marketing strategies for companies. The life sciences industry is expected to see an increase of digitalization through online assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of patients in 2021.

Value-based Pricing of Products

As more laws are being passed to drive down the prices of products especially in the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries, more companies will continue to work hard to demonstrate a drug’s effectiveness so that consumers can see the true value of the product. This can help drive down the cost of medications while providing evidence-based information for people to whom the drug’s efficacy matters most.

Data Management and Integration

Continued innovation of and improvements to cloud management strategies will enable data analysts to more easily gather, organize, and interpret information that is pertinent for life sciences research and system operations.

Incorporation of Genetics in Treatment

Expect more integration of genetic information into the assessment and treatment of disorders. In time, gene technology will make it possible for researchers to identify genome sequences that can predict disorders in humans and animals.

Heightened Focus on Immune Cell Function

A better understanding of immunity will inform how diseases and viruses are spread—especially important in light of the recent pandemic. Researchers are interested in certain attributes of cells demonstrated to be immune to certain types of viruses and bacteria. These studies will bring about profound implications in the field of immunotherapy.

Trends that are expected to affect the life sciences industry in 2021 are exciting and ever changing. Countries including the United States have increased funding in the research areas of science, technology, and healthcare, demonstrating the world’s commitment to innovations within the life sciences industry. Continued innovation and advancement will improve the welfare of those of us who are living today, as well as those for generations to come.

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How The Life Sciences Industry May Look After COVID-19

scientist holding test tube blood sample

Almost every aspect of our personal and professional lives has been retooled. When it comes to the economy, a slowdown of epic proportions has already begun. How will the days, weeks, and months ahead affect the life sciences industry? Analyzing how life sciences companies have fared though the past three recessions reveals some encouraging news.

It’s important to realize that, unlike the vast majority of businesses, the core business of life science companies is more in-demand than ever before. This is good news for the individuals who work for life sciences companies, as well as the vast network of businesses—like BaneBio and many others—that support them.

The savings and loan crisis of the early 1990s, the post-9/11 dot.com bust, or the Great Recession of 2008 and beyond give us a context for how life sciences companies perform in the face of economic crisis. If the steadiness performance of the industry during the severe economic downturns precipitated by these events are any indication, life sciences businesses are in a good position to continue to serve the marketplace well in the foreseeable future.

Some Good News

History would appear to indicate that the life sciences industry is less affected by market fluctuations than other types of businesses during periods of recession and/or economic slowdown.
• Following the savings and loan crisis in 1991, transactions negotiated within the life sciences environment grew 54%; that volume decline by an average of 2.4% for all other sectors.
• In 2001 after the attack on America, transactions within the life sciences arena grew by 18%, while our colleagues in all other businesses suffered a decline in deal volume at the rate of 32%.
• During the Great Recession of 2008, the life sciences industry’s deal volume declined by 25%, still an improvement over the 30% decline in deal activity for all other sectors.

As we stare down the barrel of the current pandemic, history would indicate that several factors are likely to at least partially insulate the life sciences industry from disastrous losses.

First, biopharmaceutical companies will continue to produce medications at a similar or better rate as in the pre-COVID world. Chronic disease and acute illness will proceed unchecked by the presence of coronavirus, necessitating steady if not accelerated production of drugs used in their prevention and treatment.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, while most in the business world are impaled on the horns of the coronavirus dilemma, those of us in the life sciences cohort are firmly engaged in finding some of the most important solutions of our time. Our collective focus is on supporting rapid diagnostic testing, better treatment, and eventually the development of a safe and effective vaccine.

Three Areas of Concentration

There is no instruction manual for handling the current and long-term effects of the pandemic on global trade and commerce. However, early indications are that life sciences companies should mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in three ways:

Manage the Change

Despite the continued demand for the service of the life sciences cohort, the way services are delivered will continue to be very different. As many have already experienced, the impact on your workforce as employees try to set priorities, stay focused, and manage their production schedules and deliverables while working remotely is significant.

Whenever possible, the challenge for leadership will be to get out in front of issues, creating policies and procedures that work well for your shop rather than reacting to news as it happens. How will you configure your workspace if physical distancing requirements are relaxed to allow partial or limited reopening? Will you test your employees daily? How will you ensure that communication among team members sharing responsibilities and goals is seamless and effective?

Meanwhile, pharma companies are feverishly checking their medicinal archives for anti-viral activity related to COVID-19 using innovative combinations. In parallel, diagnostic companies are racing to get rapid tests approved and scaled up, working through private-public partnerships. Medical supply manufacturers and distributors are scrambling to avoid backlogs and get personal protective equipment and medical supplies to healthcare professionals who are in dire need.

Look Ahead

Several months into the pandemic, the changes it has driven have given us both insight into its current effects on our businesses and a window into the future. Use this time to analyze and evaluate the measures taken to manage the effect the pandemic has had on your business. Leverage that insight to design and implement a more long-term plan that includes both an extended period of illness and closure and the things you are likely to encounter in the post-COVID 19 world. Are there, or will there be, opportunities that did not exist before? Identify these and act accordingly.

Revamp Your Business Plan

Building on the previous suggestion, a post-COVID world is likely to offer opportunities that were unavailable just last year, especially to small and mid-sized companies. On the other hand, we will have learned lessons from the experience that wise business owners and CEOs should bring to bear on future planning, including:

Review Your Contingency Planning: You know that employee in Accounting who was always advocating keeping a higher percentage of revenue in reserve for a “Rainy Day”? Even if you couldn’t agree with their abundance of caution before, history has proven them right. Having significant reserves for the unthinkable has turned out to be very prudent. Instead of going through cursory “in case of emergency” financial exercises, consider making real, detailed “worst case scenario planning” a priority. Take the time to summarize and implement the lessons learned during COVID-19 to create a guidebook for future public health or other emergencies while the events are still fresh in your mind.

Plan for Increased Digital Interaction: In-person interactions between patients and clients and healthcare providers, customer service representatives, and more was already rapidly decreasing prior to the onset of the pandemic. The public health measures put in place to slow the spread of the disease taught us that video-conferencing and other forms of remote access can work…and work well. Like the majority of industries, life sciences companies need to find ways to integrate digital interaction into their daily operations and long-term business models.

Evaluate Information Technology: What used to be an appropriate IT function will likely prove to be inadequate in a more digital, post-COVID world. With video-conferencing and other interactive applications now in use on a much wider scale, stricter cybersecurity measures need to be deployed as quickly as possible. Breaches and vulnerabilities have already been exposed early due to the increased use of these collaborative apps. Systematic IT strategies to address these are in order.

Analyze Your Supply Chain: Commerce has had access to a global marketplace for at least 20 years. Despite the significant savings often realized by businesses when securing products from other countries, prepare for that to possibly change in a post-COVID environment. On the heels of “supply chain repatriation” activity in Europe, there is a bill currently in front of the US Senate that would provide incentives for companies to secure needed products—including medicinal devices and medical supplies so important to the life sciences industry—without going outside the country.

Adjust for Pipeline Delays: The pandemic has resulted in significant disruptions to the typical schedule for the testing, approval, and subsequent launch of biopharmaceuticals. Clinical trials already in progress have been stopped or postponed. Fewer patients are enrolling in the small number of trials that are still moving forward, and the changes in Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policies and procedures driven by the need to comply with physical distancing and other public health measures are also resulting in considerable delays to market.

Life sciences companies are dealing with the same “unprecedented” crisis as the rest of the business sector, but a review of the last three decades would indicate that the industry has some unique characteristics that will help it survive economically while contributing significantly to the solution the world is waiting for.

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Top 5 Mistakes Life Science Startups Make on the Path to Clinical Trials

life sciences

Starting a business in the life sciences industry comes along with the potential for massive rewards. Of course, those rewards are promised to no one, and far more companies fail than succeed. So, what is it that separates the success stories from the rest? Avoiding the five mistakes listed below is a great place to start.

#1 – Believe Results – Not Your Preconceived Notions

It’s easy to think that your plan from the start is going to work all the way through clinical trials and onto the market. Unfortunately, that is not likely to be the case. You are going to need to trust the data that you obtain during your early studies and use it to chart a path forward. Ignoring what the data is trying to tell you is a sure way to head down the wrong road.

#2 – Letting Your Ego Get in the Way

There is plenty of confidence required to take on a task on the scale of starting a life science company. While it is a good thing to believe in yourself and trust in your abilities, it is also important to reach out for expert assistance when necessary. It’s unlikely that you know everything there is to know about all parts of your new business. The most successful business owners tend to be those who are adept at sticking to what they do best and turning over the rest to others.

#3 – Planning for the Roadblocks

If you think you are going to have a clear path and easy road from the start of your company on through clinical trials, you are in for a rude awakening. Sure, that’s always possible, but it sure isn’t likely. There are almost certainly going to be hurdles that pop up along the way, which is why you need to plan for how you are going to respond when issues pop up. Positioning yourself to adapt quickly when things don’t go your way will largely determine whether your venture is able to survive.

#4 – Managing the Business Side

There are certain things that all businesses need to do in order to remain viable and stay in operation long enough to make a difference. If a life science startup turns a blind eye to the business side of the equation, it’s going to be hard – or downright impossible – to make things work. Working with a business accelerator or incubator can be a great help to scientists who are more experienced in the lab than they are in the boardroom.

#5 – Hear Everything

You don’t necessarily have to accept every piece of advice you are given, but you certainly should listen. Take in as much information as you can from as many different sources as you work on making decisions and charting a path forward. Remember, those who can provide important input are not necessarily the highest-ranking individuals in your organization, or even the most experienced. Keep an open mind and an open office door so you can absorb all of the ideas available to you.

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Life Sciences Trends to Watch Over the Next 12 Months

Nothing is permanent in business. Just when it seems that there is an obvious trend or pattern to the way things work, someone comes along to disrupt the market and change the way everyone operates. With that in mind, it is worthwhile to take a look at the trends to watch over the coming year in the life sciences market.

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Life Science Sector Spotlight: New Product Development

Developing new products in the life science world is a daunting task. Well, to be fair, developing a new product in nearly any sector is a major challenge. This is particularly true with life science tools, considering the significant development time – and financial investment – which tends to be required. Of course, a successful company is going to have to get over this hurdle, one way or another. Without a successful new product development initiative, a company will struggle to remain relevant in the market.

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