Leaders & Teams

The Future for the Biopharma Sector

The global life sciences market is anticipated to grow by nearly 8% over the next 6 years . In this context of market growth, product development for drugs, devices, analytics and digital health is facing exponential change. Next generation gene-related therapies are anticipated to take off at a blistering pace, blockbuster patents will expire, and artificial intelligence will radically shift the terrain yet further.

Keeping up with these changes will be the next big challenge for any forward-looking biopharma organisation.

Driven by AI and other digital innovations, the way that development projects are managed is about to encounter paradigmatic change. Shepherding of the product development process will become more agile, depend ever more on really effective transversal collaboration, and be significantly digitally enabled. To succeed and thrive, leaders and managers responsible for discovering, developing, and launching new products must broaden their perspectives.

The Challenge for Product Development

Drug discovery scientists, drug development clinicians, medical affairs, manufacturing experts, and commercial, marketing and launch teams are all managed in very different ways. Managing new product development projects through the various stages of their respective development lifecycles means effectively integrating all these diverse and distinctive functional groups contributing to a product development project. This is always challenging and will only become more so. Individuals within the functional teams are experts in their own specialist areas, and each possesses knowledge and experience that cannot be easily codified or quantified. Managerial attempts to control and micromanage have no chance of succeeding.

Governance, scientific, and safety committees oversee the product development process, often with overlapping roles and responsibilities. This provides a strong oversight capability but also complicates the navigation of the governance structures. Suboptimal preparation for governance presentations, mixed with the challenges of meeting the information needs of different committees, means that it is often not easy to ascertain where the final decision rests on project progress. Accessing the members of the committees for guidance and to test thinking ahead of formal meetings is recommended yet difficult to achieve. Senior leaders and decision-makers are perpetually busy, and building high-quality relationships with these leaders can be challenging.

How Should Projects be Led To Maximise Future Success?

The way forward for leaders and managers overseeing biopharma product development projects is to cut through this complexity. This means effectively reaching across the functional silos that are inevitable in biotech and pharmaceutical organisations. Building truly integrated teams. This is made possible with an agile and highly cooperative outlook. IBM agree with us! Their Institute for Business Value (IBV) suggests that to optimise R&D investments and create more sustainable value, pharmaceutical companies must focus on improving internal collaboration across traditional boundaries within the organisation.

New approaches to leading and managing product development need to emerge within the biopharma sector. In this new world, project coordination tasks will be carried out by AI, and project managers will need to leverage its benefits. More importantly, this shift towards digitalisation will leave space for managers to build their skills in other areas, not least:

  • Encouraging and actively building network connections transversally to build strong integrated teams.
  • Energising, engaging and challenging colleagues – taking on critical facilitator roles across product development.
  • Building new constellations for value-adding developments as part of a fundamental realignment on how emergent innovation is captured and fed into value-adding products for patients.

Ironically, in this digital and AI landscape, ‘Trust’ and ‘Empathy engagement’—the ability to forge relationships—will become paramount.


“The human edge relies not in better structured processes but in human empathy and interactions.”
Alexander Schuhmacher

Looking to the Future

As drug, device, analytics, and digital health development shifts into a new gear and those tasked with managing these innovation-driven development projects are further challenged to work in a more collaborative approach, the question becomes: ‘Are We Ready?’

  • Where are our senior product development managers on these critical competencies today?
  • Do we have plans in place to start developing these skills?
  • How will AI/digitalisation of management be integrated with those vitally important human elements of leadership?

One thing we know…the future will come (very) fast.

We just need to keep up!

Would you like to Know More?

On June 14th, we will be holding the first in a series of Mannaz events that will address the seismic changes in what leaders in biopharma will have to adapt to.

If you are a senior decision maker responsible for executing strategy through company and therapy area portfolios or a project leader or manager who needs to bridge cross-functional gaps, this event is for you!

Please join us!


[1] Grand View Research: Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Route of Administration, By Molecule Type, By Drug Development Type, By Sales Channel, By Age Group, By Formulation, By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2023 – 2030

[2] Internal collaboration is the key to improved innovation’, by Jeffrey Jung and Andy Wang

[3] Schuhmacher, A. et. Al, The present and future of project management in pharmaceutical R&D, Drug Discovery Today, Volume 26, Number 1 January 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drudis.2020.07.020

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Client Director

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