In anticipation of the release of a comprehensive update to EBD’s gold-standard partnering software, partneringNEWS talked to Lisa Methley, Senior Director, Online Strategy at EBD and one of the leads in the development of the current upgrade, to be in use by late summer. Whether you have attended one, ten or no EBD Group conferences, we thought you’d enjoy a little partnering history, as well as an introduction to the new features of partneringONE.
partneringNEWS (pN): Since EBD Group got its start more than 20 years ago, it has been at the center of the partnering phenomenon in the biotech industry. Given this perspective, what role has partnering played in the growth of biotech?
Lisa Methley: Partnering has been central to the growth of the biotech industry. Twenty-four years ago at our first partnering event, BIO-Europe®, partnering was still a novel concept. But in the years since, partnering has taken off in response to several powerful catalysts, including the reconstruction of pharmaceutical R&D to look outside their four walls for fresh ideas, new assets and blossoming innovations. Additionally, the globalization of the industry has vastly expanded the field of collaborative opportunities.
Today the partnering playing field is highly competitive, and complex. Organizations have a pressing need to efficiently identify opportunities across the global playing field, and vet them in person in order to advance those opportunities. Early on, EBD Group has addressed those needs through a combination of partnering technology that enables executives to continually sift through thousands of partnering opportunities on a global basis, and then bringing those key audiences together at live events.
This has been tremendously successful for the industry. Our partneringONE software has supported half a million partnering meetings in the past 12 years—meetings that are instrumental to moving along relationships towards a deal. Delegates come back year after year to build those relationships, and the number of meetings just continues to grow.
pN: When was partneringONE first launched? And what impact has it made in the industry?
Lisa Methley: From its launch in 2006, partneringONE has been, and continues to be, a pioneering application that has helped to transform the way that the industry identifies and assesses potential partners. partneringONE continues driving significant partnering process efficiencies such as calendar downloads, ability to send multiple meeting requests to multiple companies, collaboration tools, and a mobile compatibility.
pN: Have the needs of companies and users of partneringONE changed over the years?
Lisa Methley: Most certainly. Companies are under pressure to source ideas and innovations from a broader set of industry players in the value chain. However, the most significant change has been the broad adoption of digital communications platforms. To put things into perspective, 24 years ago at our first event, partnering meetings were conducted manually using paper. Back then there was no iPhone, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Today, our users expect a sophisticated online/digital experience at the center of their workday. So, partnering applications need to meet this expectation while helping to perform essential partnering tasks of executives in our industry.
pN: I assume that similar to other digital engagement platforms, the power of partneringONE rests on the amount of data in the system?
Lisa Methley: Absolutely, and the size of our data set is a major differentiator. We have 38,000 partnering professionals in our community. As the data around our events grows in response to increasing numbers of delegates, and the number of companies and licensing opportunities being profiled, we are giving users of partneringONE a real competitive advantage. We are then layering into partneringONE more sophisticated methods to interrogate that data, filter down to the most relevant results, and manage the opportunities found.
Pre-event, a lot of time is spent on research and communicating with other companies to arrange meetings. While social media is designed to encourage people to spend more and more time on their platforms, EBD takes the opposite approach—ROI is measured not only in the great meetings that users arrange, but also in how much time they don’t have to spend on the platform—less time on the platform means more time for building meaningful relationships.
Security of data is also increasingly important—people want encrypted login credentials rather than credentials emailed in plain text. But on the other hand, delegates also expect to be able to prepare and collaborate with colleagues who are not attending, or who don’t belong to their company, so they want to be better able to manage who visits their company account. The ability to invite a guest also speaks to the need for a company administrator or two to manage ever larger teams of attendees from some companies.
There has also been an evolution in the types of meetings users have. Some meetings need to be longer, or in a larger room, or to include more than two companies in order to progress a discussion.
ROI for companies is increasingly important—every penny spent must be substantiated with results. Therefore, companies investing in floor space, whether a sponsor meeting room or exhibitor stand, need to maximize their use of this space.
pN: EBD is launching a major new release of partneringONE in September. What are some of the key new features?
Lisa Methley: Our newest release of partneringONE has added many powerful features, and will be used for the first time at the BioPharm America™ event in Boston.
A few of the more important benefits include:
- partneringONE now makes it easy to target and tailor communications to drive more focused conversations and clearer outcomes for meetings. Delegates will be able to target specific individuals when they send invites or specify which product or service they want to discuss. There’s also the option to set up and use custom templates for invites and messages, rather than starting from scratch for each request. We are also providing sponsors with improved functionality around meeting request options, including more ownership over the timings, the location, and the size of the groups attending meetings.
- The platform will be fully mobile responsive, allowing our delegates to be connected anytime, anywhere, and make schedule adjustments on the move. Delegates will be able to respond immediately, resulting in less time being spent at the computer and more time making meaningful connections that may change the world. It will now be quick and easy to reschedule meetings through new functionality.
- It’s now easier to learn more about companies and contacts and keep track of research and previous interactions, saving delegates time and helping them deepen existing relationships. partneringONE now has improved search functionality, which makes it easy for delegates to filter profiles. It’s now possible to apply custom categories to profiles, and delegates will be able to access a full history of companies and people they have partnered with, and previous correspondence with them.
- Working as a team is now much easier, and together colleagues can consolidate intelligence and insight on companies and contacts making research more robust, and meeting preparation more focused. Colleagues can now share notes within the company account, creating seamless online collaboration. Delegates will also be able to search by their colleagues’ categories on companies and people to understand who they are planning to meet with or view shared work. Customers can also ‘invite a guest’ (a non- attending colleague) to their account to help them manage the partnering process. Delegates can easily flag their intentions towards any company, person or asset, helping their colleagues to pick up opportunities while avoiding conflict or overlap.
You can find out more information about the partneringONE power features here.
pN: How do you envision that partnering will evolve in the years ahead?
Lisa Methley: The unabated need for pharma companies to fill their pipelines with new molecules from outside, the growth in virtual biotech, and the emergence of major new regional players like China indicate that partnering is here to stay in a big way. To meet the needs of different communities along the industry value chain suggests that partnering will have to accommodate the specific needs of those individual communities. Meanwhile, the pace of innovation continues to accelerate, opening new partnering playing fields.
Our development team is working hard to ensure that partneringONE remains best-in-class, and updated with the latest technologies providing an intuitive, feature-rich, accessible platform to support the changing players and needs of the industry. Be one of the first to experience these new features when partnering opens for BioPharm America™.