IndieBio, Science Exchange partnership aims to accelerate R&D science
In a move sure to make scientists happier at the prospect of less administrative burden, two companies—one that accelerates pharma and biotech research and another that figures out the research details—are joining forces.
Science Exchange and IndieBio last week announced a strategic partnership. The joint effort plans to bring new disease cures to market faster, cheaper and most certainly with less operating aggravation for pharma and biotech startups. IndieBio-backed startups plan to access Science Exchange’s network of 2,500 pre-contracted CROs to more quickly outsource much of the “nuts and bolts” research key to an innovation launch.
“Most great scientific discoveries never leave the lab because they are not in the direct interest of pharma companies,” Jun Axup, Ph.D., science director of IndieBio, told CenterWatch. “But today, with the lowering cost of R&D and accessibility of laboratory resources, it’s becoming more and more possible to build biotech startups from the ground up.”
According to Dr. Axup, the greatest advantage startups have are focus and execution, but they are limited in funding, time, resources and sometimes specialized expertise. Cost-efficient, proven outsourcing, she said, can help alleviate such restraints. This allows the startup to focus on what they do best—bringing their scientific innovations and breakthrough discoveries to market.
IndieBio bills itself as the world’s largest life sciences accelerator, with nearly 70 funded startups in a little more than two years. Their platform offers companies around the world $250,000 in seed money, a four-month acceleration program, dedicated mentorship and access to co-working and bio-safety level one and two labs.
These emerging companies are schooled in how to turn their science into products, learning skills like closing customers and raising follow-up investments. All the while, such startups are typically tightly staffed and stretched thin. This is where Science Exchange can step in and level the playing field.
“Now, an IndieBio company does not need to invest resources into sourcing, qualifying and contracting scientific service providers for their outsourced R&D, saving them significant time and cost,” Elizabeth Iorns, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Science Exchange, said in an interview with CenterWatch. “In the last decade, outsourcing of R&D has become a core strategy for improving efficiency and providing access to innovation for top biopharmaceutical companies globally.”
Dr. Iorns said that 40% of R&D spend is now outsourced and increasing. She noted that the shift in R&D spending to external providers has resulted in over 10,000 contracted CROs, as well as more than 1,000 contract manufacturers. It can be an imperfect market for startups with no internal expertise or experience in contracting for services. She cited several points of “friction” that her company works to resolve, including:
- Provider discovery: Hard-to-identify providers that are qualified, available and cost-effective.
- Price discovery: Difficult to benchmark fair cost of projects.
- Risk/trust: Significant IP, confidentiality and compliance risk associated with outsourcing R&D.
- Time delays: Delays of two-plus months per provider due to qualification, contracting and setup for payment.
- Supplier management: Hard to track progress and managing ongoing, outsourced R&D projects and provider performance.
Also, Science Exchange, and companies similar to it, provides a platform to address many of the mundane tasks of running a business. This includes vendor contracting, auditing, research ethics and accounts payable.
Dr. Axup noted that early startups are in a constant race against time. Most funding rounds last only 18 to 24 months and the money needs to be dedicated to pushing their product forward.
“Bringing everything in-house is often not as cost- and time-effective as outsourcing to specialized vendors,” she said. “Furthermore, it allows the company to reduce overhead costs, parallelize R&D efforts and focus on scaling their product. Across pharma and biotech, we are seeing a trend toward outsourcing to increase productivity.”
Dr. Axup added that Science Exchange helps nurture and manage R&D relationships by providing only verified vendors, as well as with communication transparency. This allows new biotech companies to compare the offerings of different vendors easily. Finally, confidential materials are protected, so the startup has more confidence about outsourcing their science.
“Science Exchange ... understands that the needs and timelines of an early startup are very different,” said Dr. Axup. “While our partnership is non-exclusive, I believe our companies will find immense value in accessing Science Exchange’s platform at their current stage and as they grow into larger companies.”
With a focus on biology as a technology, IndieBio companies solve problems in a wide range of industries. This includes the future of food, biopharma and healthcare, agtech, regenerative medicine, neurotech, biomaterials and other fields.
This article was reprinted from Volume 21, Issue 28, of CWWeekly, a leading clinical research industry newsletter providing expanded analysis on breaking news, study leads, trial results and more. Subscribe »