• Martin Rohrbach, Partner |

Digitalization and societal shifts are pushing Life Sciences to the brink of transformation. Over the next decade, successful players will need to redefine their R&D activities in order to rein in expenses, respond to shorter product lifecycles and seize opportunities of personalized medicine.

How is the Swiss ecosystem – traditionally a hub for Life Sciences – placed to adapt to the new normal?

Three emerging Life Sciences archetypes

Data will dominate the new Life Sciences landscape. R&D 2030, the latest in KPMG’s Thriving on disruption series, predicts that technology players will play a pivotal role in the R&D value chain, leveraging new technologies such as AI, cloud-based platforms and wearables.

At the same time, tech-enabled clinical research organizations will escape from commoditization, owning platforms and offering a broad portfolio of services across the R&D value chain, beyond outsourced clinical trials.

Besides data and technology-driven shifts, we will also increasingly see project-focused players that manage the R&D value chain end-to-end in teams of stakeholders from the world of pharma and biotech, academia and healthcare.

Swiss strengths

These new archetypes rely on advances in technology and emerging tools for rapid data and analysis. With the Swiss government committed to a “Digital Switzerland” strategy, including exceptional digital infrastructure, Switzerland is already popular with established technology giants and innovative startups. The country offers an excellent base for a new generation of Life Sciences players. As technology evolves, however, it is important that the industry agrees on globally standardized solutions to capture data and embrace the full potential of change.

Switzerland should also build on its existing Life Sciences clusters to facilitate cooperation between players in the Life Sciences value chain.

Collaboration is key

The new R&D archetypes reflect a trend towards decentralization. This is also seen in changing funding models. For example, cost and resource sharing among multiple healthcare stakeholders lowers R&D expense. Swiss Life Sciences clusters already enable close links and exchange between different stakeholders, including academic institutions. Successful players will need to intensify strategic alliances, changing their mindset to embrace an even more open spirit of collaboration.

Joint effort will also be observed in alternative funding models designed to share risk and relieve pressure on costs. Crowdfunding is an interesting option for Life Sciences firms wishing to accelerate drug development and distribute financial risk. Swiss financial regulator FINMA actively encourages innovation and competitiveness in the Swiss financial marketplace. The organization has issued guidance and clarification on crowdfunding, which supports planning and legal certainty for Life Sciences companies wishing to raise capital in this novel way. Equity partnerships may also help ease the R&D financial burden and drive innovation and cost effectiveness.

2030 starts now

How can today’s Life Sciences players reinvent innovation and prepare for the future of R&D? Companies should start with a risk analysis of their R&D portfolio. Can it be quantified? What can be done to spread risk and cost? Many companies already have a digital roadmap but should check that it adequately considers trends in the road ahead. A realistic assessment of the R&D function’s true potential will help companies establish a clear position in the R&D value chain.

Report: R&D 2030 - Reinvent innovation and become an R&D front-runner by 2030 (PDF)

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