What is the operating model for alliance management: framework of action, governance structure, tools to develop?

Alliance management is used broadly across industries, making many different models of operation relevant. At Novo Nordisk, alliance management is anchored in External Innovation & Strategy, which is a part of the R&D organisation. As a part of the organisation that scouts the external world for new and exciting ideas and internalizes them either by licensing or collaborations, alliance management anchors the new partnerships in Novo Nordisk and act to also anchor them with our new partners. In this context, alliance managers are ambassadors of Novo Nordisk with our partners, and ambassadors for our partners within Novo Nordisk.

At Novo Nordisk, all R&D projects are governed by the Research Portfolio Committee or the Product Portfolio Committee. For strategic alliances and partnerships, the alliance manager provides strategic guidance for decision making in respect of the contract, while the scientific project manager drives the project from a scientific R&D perspective. Alliance management and project management therefore need to be closely aligned to serve the best of the project, the partner, and Novo Nordisk. In the collaborations with a Joint Steering committee (JSC), the alliance manager is a non-voting member of the JSC with the specific responsibility to plan, conduct, and document JSC meetings and decisions. The responsibilities of the alliance manager include providing infrastructure to the alliance, such as data exchange, to facilitate discussions on collaboration IP and publications, monitor action items, and provide contractual insight to make sure that collaboration adheres to the contract. An important role of the alliance manager is to establish and maintain a relationship with the partner. With an established relationship, it becomes much easier to align expectations on goals, roles, and responsibilities. The `State of the Alliance´ is assessed on an annual basis using a questionnaire of up to 25 parameters that provides a 360 degree health check of the collaboration. The outcome is shared with both teams and an action plan to address any specific issues is developed in collaboration between the partners.

We are currently investigating tools to assess whether a partnership is successful. Partnerships are generally considered successful when projects are delivered to the Novo Nordisk project portfolio or when a new technology platform is successfully implemented across several therapeutic areas.

How to empower alliance managers and develop the role?

In a matrix structure, where Line of Business (LoB) and the Project organisation are responsible for the R&D portfolio, alliance managers are only important in the projects with external partners. Project managers are used to having full ownership over all scientific activities in a project and it is important for the project manager and the alliance manager to work closely together. This will ensure the mutual understanding that alliance management is responsible for the non-scientific part of the collaboration. In Novo Nordisk, alliance managers exert their influence primarily via informal power rather than by specific empowerment. The formal role of contract owners and therefore key responsible for the financial and legal aspects provides the organisational support for the alliance manager. But the influence reaches far beyond that based on organisational insight and relationships to key stakeholders across the R&D organisation. While as contract owners, alliance managers provide strategic recommendations based on project and LoB goals, portfolio considerations vis-a-vis the existing contract, alliance management generally has a deep strategic insight that reaches across science, business, relationships, and legal framework. By working closely with existing partners, stakeholders across the entire R&D organisation, business development, and corporate strategy, alliance management is uniquely positioned for the successful exploitation of external innovation.

How to secure robust partnership and overcome difficulties?

At Novo Nordisk, we have defined three key characteristics that make partnerships effective. 

First, they have to be aligned with the R&D strategy, i.e. they have to be focused on business. Business focus is the commitment to explore synergies and secure that business decisions are balanced in alignment with the strategy while keeping momentum in the project and incentivise our partners. Secondly, to build a robust partnership, accountability is a key denominator. Accountability is the commitment to comply with our responsibilities and strive for the best possible results without discriminating the origin of the innovation or partner source.

Finally, building a strong relationship is needed to be able to swiftly and professionally handle difficulties, whether their origin is technical or arise from the collaboration. Transparency is the commitment to develop and maintain a trustworthy relationship, thus securing flexibility and creativity to promote results.

What would you like to achieve by attending the 8th Annual Strategic Alliance Management for Pharma?

I am looking forward to discuss the challenges in integration external innovation, the pros and cons of various governance models, and last but not least, to build a network amongst peers in the industry.

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For more information, contact:
Yiota Andreou


Ahead of the 8th Annual Strategic Alliance Management for Pharma Conference, we spoke with Bo Skaaning Jensen, Senior Alliance Director, Business Development, Novo Nordisk about the operating model for alliance management.

Practical Insights From:
Alliances Progress
Astellas Pharma
Bayer AG Pharmaceuticals
Evotec (UK) Ltd.
Novo Nordisk
Pierre Fabre
University of London


About the Conference:

This marcus evans conference will look at the value creation within Alliance
Management and how to empower and align the role of Alliance Management
within the company. The delegates will benefit from experienced case study and
learn how to maximise the potential of the collaboration in order to bring the
relationship to mature stage, how to create a strong commitment beyond size
and cultural differences and create the road for new and fruitful development.
8th Annual Strategic Alliance Management for Pharma Conference will
take place from the 23rd until the 25th of April 2018 in Berlin, Germany.

Copyright © 2018 Marcus Evans. All rights reserved.

Previous Attendees Include: 

Abbott Bioresearch Centre
Bayer Healthcare
Boehringer Ingelheim
Bristol-Myers Squibb
Daiichi Sankyo Group
Eli Lilly and Company
Johnson & Johnson
Merck & Co
Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharmaceuticals
Novartis Pharma AG
Roche Biologics
Shire Pharmaceutical

About the speaker:

Bo Skaaning Jensen is Senior Alliance Director at Novo Nordisk A/S and holds a PhD in Molecular Physiology. Dr. Jensen is a father of two, and enjoys leisure activities such as reading novels, trekking and he is a passionate marathon runner. His career has involved basic science, drug discovery project management, line management, business development, alliance management and several C-suite positions. Since his first position as research scientist at the Danish CNS-focused Company, NeuroSearch, Dr. Jensen has been actively involved in collaborations and partnerships with academia, biotech companies and big pharma. With a track record from small start-ups, listed biotech companies and big pharma, Dr. Jensen has been involved in most aspects of alliance management from the early deal making discussions, via kick-offs and alliance execution to terminations.

The operating model for alliance management.


Interview with Bo Skaaning Jensen, Senior Alliance Director, Business Development, Novo Nordisk

Bo Skaaning Jensen, Senior Alliance Director, Business Development, Novo Nordisk

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