Food for Thought: Evotec’s Werner Lanthaler on Capital Efficiency in the Biotech Industry

Werner Lanthaler, CEO of German biotech company Evotec AG, who managed to make the company profitable for the first time in 18 years, this month gave his appraisal of how medical research can regain its former glory in a commentary in MedNous.

With only 200 of 6,000 biotech projects being potential deal candidates for big pharma (and less than half of them being potential top-sellers), Lanthaler states that capital efficiency needs to be the new norm in innovation.

To make this happen, he gives four recommendations:

1. Always fight the cause of the disease, not the symptoms. To make this happen, Lanthaler calls for new cooperation models involving research institutions, companies, regulators, and payers. In large indications, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Lanthaler suggests joint initiatives by big pharma corporations.

2. Only end-products, not processes count. This means that efforts to pump more public money into early stage research is fruitless unless it is accompanied by translational work. To focus on products, Lanthaler recommends that companies build more flexible organizations and  lower fixed costs and spending.

3. Learn killing projects early. Lanthaler states this requires delegation, very fast decision-making and increased trust in innovation that comes from outside the larger company. Companies should even consider outsourcing certain decision-making processes.

4. Win the next war for talent, so that you can identify and access the best science, be it internal or external.

On the last point, Lanthaler is currently seeking scientists. He told the Hamburg-based local paper Hamburger Abendblatt recently that Evotec is heavily recruiting and welcomes applications of excellent researchers. “If the profile is matching we hire every talent,” he said.

MedNous is a print publication and a website for everyone involved in medical research in Europe. It was founded by Victoria English and William Ellington, two seasoned business and science  journalists.