Meet our Speakers - Pharmaceutical & Biotech Finance Leaders Forum 2014
By NextLevel Life Sciences - February 13, 2014

Leading up to NextLevel Pharma’s Pharmaceutical & Biotech Finance Leaders Forum, we are conducting email interviews with selected members of our prestigious speaker panel to learn more about their thoughts on this vital issue.

*Opinions below are those only of the individual and do not reflect upon corporate strategy or positioning.
For more information regarding NextLevel Pharma’s Pharma & Biotech Finance Leaders Forumclick here.

Tatiana Simonelli
Finance Director
BMS, Italy




Magnus Bjorsne
Business Development, Transaction Director
Astrazeneca, Sweden




Stian Kvanli
Independent Program Manager, Heading a Enterprise-
Architecture Change-Program, Netherlands




Christian Policard
Biotech Développement Conseils, France




NLP: What do you think makes the current financial environment in Europe so challenging for pharmaceutical & biotech companies?

Tatiana Simonelli: European economies are not growing as fast as in the past. Some governments are struggling to keep public finances in order. Healthcare spend represent a significant share of the public spend and is subject to numerous government interventions. Some immediate consequences for pharmaceutical and biotech companies are increased uncertainty and time to collect receivables as well as impact of various austerity measures. This, coupled with long time to market driven by lengthy R&D process and increasing market access hurdles, puts significant pressure on company financials.

Stian Kvanli: R&D investments in EU is being crowded out by the critical mass of biotech startups in the US.

Magnus Bjorsne: This is most likely a combination of many factors. The view that VC returns in life science is tough (see e.g. the Kaufman report) makes investors more reluctant overall. Secondly, new funds target lower risk with the consequences that certain therapeutic areas are no longer as attractive as investments. This in particular impacts areas associated with high development costs like e.g. Diabetes. I also think the investors have become more skillful in assessing the science and my view is that the quality of programs that are being funded has increased (meaning fewer but probably better investments overall).

Christian Policard: The main reason is that private equity funds during the last 15 years have not demonstrated that they were able to return the money with an acceptable TRI. The second reason is the continuous growth of the cost to develop a drug and ...the delay to be approved.

NLP: Which trends have you seen on the ways in which the pharma & biotech sector approach financial matters over the past 5 years?

Tatiana Simonelli: Potential sector reaction can go in two directions. First, better finance discipline will be needed: tighter expense & credit control, better use of pure financial means like factoring, better resource allocation. On the other side, these are the times when also non-finance guys need to understand that there is a very strong interconnection between commercial/R&D actions and final financial results. This would mean better objectives alignment and integration, shared approach to investment choices.

Stian Kvanli: The main trend is that companies are focusing their financial resources on strategic and value add activities and outsourcing their financial services.

Magnus Bjorsne: Increasing impact of corporate funds, more and different risk sharing approaches, earlier engagement.

Christian Policard: More and more the role of Corporate Venture is increasing while the role of private equity funds is decreasing.

How much do you think the financial roles in the pharma & biotech sector are increasing their influence over strategic & country-level decision-making?

Tatiana Simonelli: CFOs already are or are becoming key business partners. Also in the industry traditionally driven by R&D and commercial functions, there is a better consensus that finance professionals should not only report numbers but, thanks to their deep business understanding, ability to forecast and manage risks, should drive business and investment choices. Then it is up to finance professionals to take this new challenge.

Stian Kvanli: Influence is increasing as the industry is maturing and we are seeing consolidation across the EU.

Christian Policard: I do not think the financial role has increased or decreased. The fundamental changes are more related to the development and regulatory issues. Perhaps there are a need of more analytical works to follow the operational changes.

NLP: What’s the best thing for you about working in financial roles in the pharma & biotech sector?

Tatiana Simonelli: This sector is very dynamic. It is risky and not always easily predictable – this allows finance professionals to fully exploit analysis and forecasting skills. This is also a sector that has very high frequency of all possible types of collaboration with other partners (alliances, joint ventures, etc.) that teaches extraordinary accounting & reporting as well as collaboration skills. At the same time, it is the sector that helps people health which is a very valuable mission.

Stian Kvanli: The best thing about working in the biotech industry is that I can see how my functional role is contributing to making a difference. It is giving me the opportunity to contribute to an industry that is doing something novel and impactful.

Magnus Bjorsne: The privilege of interacting with a lot of talented people while discussing the most interesting assets the industry has on display. In parallel to this, being part of the transformation that currently is happening in our industry and at the same time being able to participate in forming it is indeed interesting.

Christian Policard: There is a strong need when you have a financial role to be closer and closer to the business, as it is becoming more complex and changing faster.

NLP: Why is this Pharma & Biotech Financial Leaders Forum event a good idea for people to attend in your eyes?

Tatiana Simonelli: P&BFLF is a unique opportunity to hear fist-hand current industry thinking, exchange ideas and meet new people.

Stian Kvanli: The main contribution of the Pharma & Biotech Financial Leaders Forum, is to give professionals, financial and non-financial alike, a better understanding of the potential within the industry and the motivation to help push their companies it to the next level.

Magnus Bjorsne: It is the cross section of disciplines new things happens and meetings like this are always fruitful as long as you participate actively.

Christian Policard: The good idea is to mix financial and non financial leaders as there is a strong need of the two expertises working as a team.