Open Innovation and Deal-Making

Q&A with Head of Strategy and Business Development Paul Biondi on how partnerships and collaborations help drive company strategy

June 03, 2019 | By Paul Biondi, Head of Business Development, Global Business Operations

Where will Bristol-Myers Squibb’s next scientific breakthrough for patients come from?

Paul Biondi says - open innovation – the concept known as using internal and other companies' ideas to develop new business.

Paul Biondi, Head of Strategy and Business Development

Paul Biondi, Head of Strategy and Business Development

As the company’s Head of Strategy and Business Development, Biondi and his team are responsible for finding and cultivating potential collaborations and partnerships around the globe -- from academic institutions and small bio-techs to non-profit research centers and even large competitors.

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s business development and R&D teams work closely together on sourcing innovation through partnerships that will combine leading science, technology and research with the Company’s development and commercial expertise.

“Business development is a core element of our innovation strategy because it has to be,” he says. “There’s an abundance of science happening outside the company and being able to pair external innovation with our internal expertise has allowed us to evolve our portfolio over time so we can ultimately help more patients.”

Before heading to the 2019 BIO International Conference in Philadelphia, Biondi took time to answer questions on why open innovation is a big part of the company’s strategy and what makes Bristol-Myers Squibb a partner of choice.

Q: Many companies are now talking about open innovation. Is this a new space for Bristol-Myers Squibb?

A: Bristol-Myers Squibb has a long history of open innovation and helping companies move into new areas, including our partnership and eventual acquisition of Medarex in 2009. This acquisition was critical for laying the groundwork for our immuno-oncology portfolio by allowing us access to the incredible work of researchers Alan Korman and Nils Lonberg, two top scientists who were part of our R&D organization. This particular deal helped to inform how we were thinking about partnerships and collaborations. It also set us apart from other companies because we were among the first large pharma companies to embrace open innovation. Over the years, there have been many other collaborations and partnerships that have allowed us to continually make a difference for patients.

Q: In addition to Business Development, you lead the company’s Strategy. Was this by design?

A: The two really do go hand in glove. Because we are working in a dynamic – and undoubtedly competitive – environment, we know it’s critical to take an agnostic approach to discovering innovation. While we have some of the brightest minds working for us at Bristol-Myers Squibb to develop and deliver innovative medicines for patients, we are committed to following the science. That sometimes leads us to breakthroughs happening outside our own labs. Our company strategy – to be the best of pharma and the best of bio-tech – relies heavily on the success of our business development initiatives. My role as the Head of Strategy and Business Development allows me to take an enterprise view of what’s happening both inside and outside the company to ensure we are relentless in our pursuit of innovation that is in line with our strategic priorities.

Q: What differentiates Bristol-Myers Squibb as a partner of choice?

A: We have a strong strategic foundation and an incredible opportunity for growth in an increasingly challenging environment. We seek external innovation that can augment and diversify our pipeline, product portfolio, and capabilities and are strategically aligned to our four core therapeutic areas: cancer, cardiovascular, immuno-science and fibrosis. We have a high bar for innovation focused on areas where our medicines can truly make a difference for patients. We have a strong track record of collaboration, a solid reputation and commercial success. Most importantly, we live and breathe science and what it has the potential to do for patients and their loved ones. Our internal teams are driven by a love of science and a strong commitment to patients. That’s why we come to work every day.

Q: Is there a particular patient you’ve met who’s inspired you?

A: One of the reasons why I wanted to come work for Bristol-Myers Squibb 17 years ago and why I love my job still is our company’s focus on patients. We often invite patients to speak to our colleagues so they can share how our work has made a difference in their lives. One patient I had the privilege to meet and who has had a lasting impact on my work was Barbara. She gave the fight of her life against cancer, and shared her story with us. Eventually Barbara relapsed and she lost her battle with the disease. As much as we’ve done to help transform cancer care for many patients, there’s still so much more to do. That’s what keeps all of us going at Bristol-Myers Squibb.

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