Roche: Sophie Kornowski-Bonnet. Leading efforts in finding suitable opportunities for strategic alliances and partnerships in R&D




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Video title: Roche: Sophie Kornowski-Bonnet. Leading efforts in finding suitable opportunities for strategic alliances and partnerships in R&D
Released on: May 31, 2013. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, filmed at Bio Conference 2013, in Chicago, USA, Fintan Walton talks to Sophie Kornowski-Bonnet of Roche
Changes in structure of partnering at Roche
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at the BIO Convention, in Chicago in 2013. On this show, I have Sophie Kornowski-Bonnet, who is Global Head of Partnering at Roche, welcome.
Sophie Kornowski Bonnet :
Hi Fintan, very nice to be here today.
Fintan Walton:
Excellent to see you. Sophie you've taken over the role of Global Head of Partnering at Roche just over a year ago back in February, I think of, 2012, you've implemented a number of changes particularly in the strategy but also in the way the structure of partnering is done at Roche. Could you bring it through what those changes are?
Sophie Kornowski Bonnet :
So we've adapted the structure of partnering to feed better the new structure of pRED and the partnering team today is present in South San Francisco, in Basel, in Shanghai, and in Tokyo. And then we have a number of people also who are in the New York City area to support also the research center there. So what we have is a number of therapy areas reporting into me directly, a group that does Japan and the emerging markets, positioned in Tokyo and Shanghai, and the group that does strategy partnering for which is strategic analysis of product or companies going all the way to merger and acquisition, and finally the last group that I think is extremely key there is venture innovation which is partnership in academia and also looking at the venture capital firms as well as research and technology,. All those people are reporting into me by teams so that we have the right level of conversation and quality of conversation when we assess opportunities.
Fintan Walton:
Right, so part of that obviously is that it replicates the R&D structure, the interest in therapy areas which you want to go into?
Sophie Kornowski Bonnet :
We have responsibility both for bringing innovation to R&D be it technology or therapy area molecules, but also for late stage partnering including possibly strategic partnering going as far as mergers and acquisitions in term of strategy. So the groups the way it's organized has all those functions reporting into me so of course very strategic partnering as well looking into merger and acquisition. So it replicates beyond just a research but also commercial operations.
Fintan Walton:
Okay, so when you talk about M&A you are talking about M&A of other biotechnology companies or are you talking about M&A at a very you know Roche over taking, taking over large pharma?
Sophie Kornowski Bonnet :
I am really talking about partnerships that can translate into acquisitions, so it can be from collaborating on a product, collaborating on a project but also possibly having two companies coming closer together.
Strategy for emerging markets like China
Fintan Walton:
Okay, so quite a broad reach in terms of how you get access to innovations, how you get access to products. You've talked about the importance now of the emerging markets, how does the strategy differentiate itself between a strategy say for an example accessing innovation say in the US verses say an emerging market like China?
Sophie Kornowski Bonnet :
Well I think that innovation remains innovation whether it's in an emerging market or it's the United States. And I think the standards for innovation will always, or should remain, the same or at least within the Roche we consider they should be the same, which means they are best in class new molecular or new mode of action possibly new modality as well and true unmet medical need. So we are not into the business of doing slight improvements or incremental differentiation.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Sophie Kornowski Bonnet :
So the access will be a quite different because naturally the innovation market in emerging, the innovation in emerging market is not that's prominent, it's in some countries it's still at the infant times, so may be sometime you need to partner with them to get them to a stage that would be more advanced, but I think we remain true to innovation all around the globe.
Fintan Walton:
Right, and when it comes to the emerging markets that include gaining access to products that exist in that market already so does your remit include products on the market?
Sophie Kornowski Bonnet :
Theoretically, if there was an amazing global product that was already launched in emerging market but not in the rest of the world, then it would have gone out of the you know radar screen of everyone that could be the case,. Most of the time, very honestly, what you are talking about is regional opportunities. We will consider regional opportunities including those close to the market but, we will put the screening criteria of true innovation unmet medical need and proven science in the same way in emerging market than we would in a developed market.
Partnership strategy with independent venture capitals
Fintan Walton:
Right, the other element you talked about is venture capital and of course one of the key things of, one thing is to identify great innovation, the other is to how do you take that innovation forward. And historically venture capital has been an important player in that. Obviously Roche have got it their own venture arm, their corporate venture arm and also you've got access to independent venture capitalists who are also interested in the same concepts as you, so in your strategy how does that how has that changed, and how are you approaching you know partnerships with VC's differently to the way you did before?
Sophie Kornowski Bonnet :
I think that we've always looked at VC's. As a company, we've always had close relationships and being pretty opportunistic and open to some innovation that could come from that front. I would say we are more systematic, we've really try to build a very thorough review of what exists out there, including potentially looking at very early platforms that are being developed within VC's that wouldn't necessarily deliver innovation tomorrow, but that could be R&D engines and see how we can partner with VC's. So going more into how much can we externalize from R&D that would bring this to new therapeuticmodalities, new ways of doing R&D and this is in partnership with research a bit new for us.
Competing with other pharma companies
Fintan Walton:
Okay, so how do you, in the end you have to compete with other pharma companies or in same sort of assets that you are interested, so how do you differentiate yourselves?
Sophie Kornowski Bonnet :
I think it starts by knowing what you are looking for, I think that you have to have a clear strategy wants and clear standards for science or clear standards as well for what type of intellectual property are you going to let pass the bar or not. How big the disease has to be or how important the disease has to be. So, if this is clear already you know what you are looking for and you know what to let go, because every year we screen thousands more about 2500 opportunities so if we don't know what you don't look you want to get away from then you may waste a lot of time. So clear strategic walls and then a thorough process to answer the question "is this an unmet medical need", "is this a real innovation", "is this patentable", "is the commercial model making sense" and for this you have to have expertise in the teams. And I believe that people inside the company who would bring external innovation have to have excellence in science, great commercial skills and also an ability to work cross-functionally in a very smooth fashion. And I think that's how we are trying to differentiate or this is how we have differentiated ourselves historically but to do more of it so we can access innovation the right one and fast.
Fintan Walton:
So how do you compete?
Sophie Kornowski Bonnet :
What is extremely important for us and for partners is that we are flexible in deal making., What we want is to find the right partner for in terms of culture of course but also the right structure of partnerships so that it's a win-win, a win for Roche but also a win for the biotech or the bigger pharma.
Deal and relationship with Genentech
Fintan Walton:
And of course the other element to all of this is that you've got the Genentech [PharmaDeals ID = 30853] Partnering as well. So the two of you have some sort of relationship obviously because you are both out there looking at these innovations?
Sophie Kornowski Bonnet :
We collaborate.
Fintan Walton:
You collaborate?
Sophie Kornowski Bonnet :
Yes, we share knowledge. We keep diversity of approach and confidentiality is extremely key to us and it's extremely important for our partners, but at the same time we are one company. So every now and then we have opportunity to share information and when we can, we do so. And also make sure that we present one face to potential partners so we go fast., Because I think deal making it's also about not making people waste their time, the right conversation at the right time and we are very careful about this.
Future goals
Fintan Walton:
Right, and Sophie one last question, I mean you've taken on this position just over a year ago, what would you like to see that you've personally achieved over the next three or four-years?
Sophie Kornowski Bonnet :
I think we always say you read the articles and they say 40 to 60% of portfolio of companies comes from external innovation, today in Roche it's about 37% of our sales come from external innovation. I would like to know that when I leave this position the portfolio is poised in such a way that I do really my share of the work, that's my vision, and that's my hope, and that's my intention.
Fintan Walton:
Sophie, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Sophie Kornowski Bonnet :
It's a pleasure. Thank you.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Sophie Kornowski Bonnet
Global head
At the time of recording this PTV interview Sophie Kornowski Bonnet serves as Global Head of Roche Partnering at Roche. Sophie Kornowski-Bonnet is Global Head of Partnering at F. Hoffmann-La Roche (Roche)and a member of the Roche Executive Committee, based at the company's headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. She previously served as General Manager at Roche France, the French pharmaceutical subsidiary of Roche, from 2007 until 2012. Dr Kornowski-Bonnet has a PhD in Pharmacy from the Universite Paris Descartes and an MBA in marketing and finance from the University of Chicago. She began her career at Abbott, where she served as a scientific manager in the Diagnostics division and as a market research analyst and sales representative in the Pharmaceutical Products division. Sophie has held positions with Sanofi Winthrop as Strategic Marketing Manager and Business Unit Manager and, most recently, with the Merck-Sharp & Dohme Group. She joined the group in June 1996, as Director of Market Research and Strategic Planning in France, then served as General Manager in Israel, followed by the role of VP in Rheumatology and Analgesia Business Unit and Director of the Cardiovascular Division until February 2007.
PharmaVentures
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
Roche
Roche: As a research-focused healthcare company, Roche discovers, develops and provides innovative diagnostic and therapeutic products and services that deliver significant benefits to patients and healthcare professionals "from early detection and prevention of diseases to diagnosis, treatment, and treatment monitoring. Roche was founded on October 1st, 1896. The founder, Fritz Hoffmann-La Roche, was among the first to recognize that the industrial manufacture of standardized medicines would be a major advance in the fight against disease. From the very beginning, Roche's visionary founder focused his company on innovation and on establishing an international presence. This multinational presence reinforces our ability to offer our healthcare solutions and to anticipate needs in all regions of the world. Today, Roche employs over 80,000 people and sells its products in over 150 countries. Today Roche ranks among the world's leading healthcare companies and has two strong core businesses: diagnostics and pharmaceuticals. Roche's prime objective is to identify and meet the patient's and customers' needs. This implies solving their problems and anticipating their future needs by maintaining close contact with them and listening to what they say. Roche focus resources on two research intensive businesses: pharmaceuticals and diagnostics and aim is to develop new and improved drugs, diagnostic tests and services offering significant benefits over existing options.