New Year New You – resolutions for 2023 and beyond
The start of a new year seems the perfect time for new beginnings. Many of us use the turning of the calendar to make commitments to living a better life. Not surprisingly, the most popular resolutions involve health, well-being and fulfilment: getting more exercise, losing weight, learning a new skill, saving money, spending more time with family and friends.
Not so common is the concept of New Year’s resolutions for business, but since health and well-being are at the heart of the life sciences and biotech sectors, we think it’s a very good idea.
2023 seems set to be an interesting year for our industry. During the most restrictive months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the biggest companies with the most resources consolidated their dominance and, in many cases, became household names. At the same time, mergers and acquisitions activity went into abeyance as market valuations fell and venture capital firms paused their funding programmes. In 2023 we expect the environment to change, with early stage European biotech companies particularly well placed to benefit. So what should you be doing to prepare?
Funding and Capital Injection
In 2022, before his short-lived adventure as Chancellor, the then-business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced £260 million of government funding for the life sciences sector. While we await hopefully for a similar initiative in 2023, there are several ways of securing funds short of an IPO. One of the most efficient is to adopt a hybrid model in which a proportion of the equity required is supplemented with a responsible level of debt. The debt element could ultimately be converted into equity. In the past, venture capital investors have been reluctant to engage with a startup or scaleup that’s already carrying debt, but economic and business necessity is liberalising attitudes.
Alternatively, companies could re-open their most recent funding round to include new investors on the same terms granted to existing investors. This will affect the original valuation but effectively represents a flat round, which could be seen as a better long-term opportunity.
It’s essential to be as fully resourced as possible in advance of the anticipated upturn. Not only will this give your business the enhanced capability you need, but it will also satisfy investors that you can deliver on your promises. This isn’t an easy resolution to keep, given the imbalance of the current employment market and the much-publicised shortage of life sciences and biotech skills. If you’re embarking on new research and product development, it’s even more urgent. However, the sooner you address this, the better your chances of finding a solution. Don’t overlook the value of diversity in sourcing new talent – if you think laterally and inclusively, you’ll expand the pool from which you can recruit.
Optimising your workforce is essential, but at the same time, you need to build in financial resilience. Funding is uniquely problematic in the life sciences sector because of the unusually lengthy timescales under which the industry is compelled to operate. With the longest recession of recent times looming and the possibility of the research, development, trial and approval cycle becoming even more protracted, the imperative to remain resilient is stronger than ever. This means planning for every eventuality, including the most unlikely. Anticipation is much better than reaction.
As you enter this more positive phase for the industry, it’s vital to claim your share of the highest growth areas. Innovation is most keenly sought in fields including genetics, personalised medicine, digital diagnostics, data management, artificial intelligence and immunology. To take advantage of improving conditions, you need to position your company in some or all of these growing areas of research and development. It’s a strategy that is good for business and possibly even better for attracting investment. If it means refocusing your operations away from bread and butter projects towards higher-profile innovation then so be it. These are not normal times so they demand a versatile and creative approach.
The life sciences industry is notorious for its failure rates when it comes to mergers, acquisitions and partnership agreements. The biggest cause of this is generally poor scientific as opposed to financial due diligence. Regulatory issues can also cause significant problems.
As in any M&A process, the initial duty lies with the company being acquired to generate and provide the most accurate information relevant to the transaction. However, it’s always for the acquiring business to assess the opportunities before committing to the deal. It’s clearly in the interests of the target company to facilitate this assessment thoroughly and transparently. You must prioritise your M&A preparation so that your assets are honestly and comprehensively presented but you should be open about potential threats and obstacles.
The number of early stage European biotech companies is growing all the time, with total investment expected to reach $400 billion in 2023. While there is a lot of money available, there are also more choices than ever for acquiring entities. If you fail to draw attention to the less attractive elements of a deal then when these are discovered during the due diligence process, it could be more damaging to the prospects of concluding the deal than if you’re upfront about them.
It’s never too soon to work on convincing investors that a major new injection of funds is the final missing piece in your jigsaw of success. For a startup or a scaleup, M&As are not games of chess, they are the power behind growth.
Need help establishing your life sciences or biotech company? Get in touch with ScaleX Consulting for expert business and life sciences recruitment advice that will serve your company well in 2023.
If you found this insight interesting, we recommend reading 6 Things to think about when launching your life science startup or biotech startup (scalexconsulting.com)