“My job is getting more technical and more challenging every day.” This is how one of the first interviews we conducted began in our ongoing research project to examine the current state of the practice of biopharmaceutical alliance management. “What do you mean by that?” we asked. “I am spending more and more time making sure we don’t violate contract restrictions,” he responded—explaining that this means he needs to have a pretty good understanding of the science in multiple research agreements and understand the legal strictures. “We spend a lot of time making sure that what we are doing on one project doesn’t create a problem on another contract. Only the alliance management team will have that perspective.”
As of this writing the co-authors have interviewed 31 alliance managers from 29 big pharma, biotech, and animal health alliance management organizations. Some have longstanding alliance management practices and others are just getting started—20 percent of the interviewees’ companies didn’t have an alliance management function five years ago. Nearly all of them are adding alliance managers, and larger companies are creating new roles within their alliance management teams.
Everything we’ve learned through the interviews—and through additional, more informal interactions with dozens of alliance managers—leads to one key finding:
There is no longer any doubt: alliance management is acknowledged at the highest executive levels as an essential strategic capability in today’s biopharmaceutical company.