New Course (Spring 2012): Entrepreneurial Perspectives on Biotechnology

  • March 11, 2012

Management 298D

Professor: Marvin Lieberman

Meeting Tuesdays, 4:10 to 7:00 pm

The birth of the biotechnology industry in the late 1970s and 1980s saw the emergence of many entrepreneurial startups. Some of these firms, such as Amgen and Genentech, grew into successful, vertically integrated producers of biologic drugs. Today, however, the typical cost of bringing a new drug to market exceeds $1 billion, and the lead time from discovery to commercialization is 10 years or more. Biotech has thus become an extreme case among high-technology industries with respect to the cost, risk and timeframe of product innovation.

The barriers of cost and lead time limit the opportunities for new companies to follow the growth pattern of the early biotech entrants. Nevertheless, a variety of entrepreneurial opportunities have been developing in recent years, largely in two areas. First, the established biotech and pharmaceutical companies have become increasingly dependent on universities and startups for the discovery of new biologic drugs. And second, a diverse network of firms has arisen to provide development and manufacturing services on a contract basis. These “CDMOs” serve the large, established biopharmaceutical companies as well as many smaller, discovery-based firms that are attempting to move their drugs forward to market. Thus, the vertically integrated model is rapidly breaking down, giving rise to a much more complicated – but arguably more interesting – landscape of biotechnology firms.

This course provides perspective on the evolving landscape of biotechnology from the standpoint of new entrepreneurial companies. It focuses on changes and challenges in the industry, and opportunities for new entrants. The course is appropriate for MBA students who wish to deepen their understanding of the biotechnology industry and the many entrepreneurial opportunities that the industry provides. The course is also appropriate for graduate students in the life sciences who contemplate possible careers in biotechnology and who seek to deepen their understanding of the relevant business context.

The course provides insights through a range of approaches and materials, including readings, cases, lectures, outside speakers, and class discussion. The course meets once a week in a three-hour session, which will normally be divided into two parts. One part will be lecture and/or case discussion; the other will be devoted to presentation by an outside speaker. Outside speakers include industry entrepreneurs, CEOs, scientists, consultants and other experts.


Topics and Class Sessions:

Class 1. Overview of the Biotech Industry: Evolution of the Sector and Critical Issues

Class 2. Scientific Nuts and Bolts of Biotech

Class 3. Alternative Business Models

Class 4. IP Strategies, Valuation and Licensing

Class 5. Growing Reliance on Outside Discovery

Class 6. The Role of Universities: Spin Outs and Technology Transfer

Class 7. Opportunities for Contract Development and Manufacturing Organizations

Class 8. Biosimilars and Offshoring: Opportunities and/or Threats?

Class 9. Can Biotech Thrive in Los Angeles?

Class 10. Student Presentations