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Risky Business — The Future of Biopharmaceutical Innovation

Risky Business — The Future of Biopharmaceutical Innovation

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The New York Academy of Sciences

Presented By


Until five years ago, the biopharmaceutical industry seemed locked into a downward spiral — patent cliffs loomed for old drugs, new drugs were scarce, and commercial successes even more so.

Now, though, the industry seems to have pulled out of a nosedive into a new Golden Age with 2015 delivering more new approvals than the previous twenty years.

A new generation of cancer drugs that channels a patient’s own immune system to advantage is dramatically improving survival rates, once fatal rare diseases such as cystic fibrosis and Duchenne's are becoming chronic and even in established areas like diabetes a new generation of drugs promises to improve patient outcomes. The confluence of new therapeutic modalities and big data is opening even more avenues for medical advancement in the future.

Yet at a time when innovation levels are clearly increasing, payors are questioning the value of new drugs. Can the industry rely on them for the funding of future innovation? Regulators, on the other hand, are increasingly supportive of novel trial designs and unorthodox regulatory pathways. Weighing these opposing forces, what then will the future of biopharma innovation look like?

Can companies design and execute sustainable growth strategies for this emerging environment?

The Academy plays host to an exciting exploration of the challenges confronting the biopharmaceutical industry. Through a uniquely immersive and playful format, this workshop will guide you through the industry's past, into the changing present, and invite you to ponder the possibilities that lie in the immediate and more distant future. Join us, your colleagues in industry, academia, healthcare providers, payors, and investors, to find out!


Biopharmaceutical companies make some of the biggest and most risky gambles of any industry: each new drug ultimately requires multi-billion-dollar investments. These investments take more than a decade to play out — during which time, profound changes will occur. Internal portfolios wax and wane; competitors' innovations, regulatory & commercial frameworks reshape the playing field; some therapeutic advancements move the pitch to a new field altogether.

In such an uncertain landscape, companies are constantly rethinking their strategy, and how they can try and take advantage of technical advancements to build innovation models that are fit for the future. With the emergence of open innovation networks, what will be the role for in-house R&D?

This half-day workshop is mainly directed at students and post-docs with an interest in understanding the innovation dynamics of the bio-pharmaceutical industry, and provides you a taste of how the investment decisions are taken, beating competitors to a lucrative deal, and the challenges the industry faces. Using a competitive board game that has been developed specifically to mimic the pharmaceutical industry past and present, you will take on the role of executive team of a mid-size company. As a management team, you will develop, execute, alter your strategy in response to your own success and failures, and pounce on the missed opportunities of others. At the end, the winning team will be invited to share their strategy. Major lessons learnt and key questions for the future will be summarized and opened for discussion.

Selected Testimonials

“I really enjoyed the fact that it emphasized how many different skill sets are needed to run a successful pharmaceutical company.”

“The interactive nature of the game, lots of great information was given on this seminar. Highly recommended. ”

“Risky Business is an engaging workshop format for strategic dimensions of the pharmaceutical industry. It is at the same time a team event, a competitive challenge and most importantly a highly relevant programme. The game provided our researchers with a hands-on experience of R&D, Business Development & Licensing as well as executive level decision making.”

“Risky Business is a great way to get a hand-on experience on strategies and risk of clinical development in the pharmaceutical industry in a very short amount of time. It is quite realistic with close reference to the actual pharmaceutical industry key figures for R&D and BD&L processes, timelines, costs, success and failure. The seminar gives insight into why drug development is often so difficult and problematic, while at the same time also giving some insights into how to confront these challenges through deal making and improved decision making. Risky Business is a fun, interactive and productive way to work on team-building and for varied groups to look at their work in a more comprehensive way.”

“The ‘Risky Business Game’ is an enjoyable simulation of drug development and marketing. Demanding skills like strategic thinking, teamwork and evaluation of business risks, it realistically mimics the portfolio management situation of the pharmaceutical industry. In a relaxed atmosphere it trains the player for process analysis and decision-making, based on real facts. It is a valuable experience that helps one understand the complex nature of processes used every day in the Pharma business.”

“Risky Business leads participants through the multifaceted process of drug development and enables them to understand it much more effectively and profoundly than any PowerPoint presentation possibly could. It’s demanding — and fun.”


From Catenion, a global strategy consultancy with the largest team exclusively focused on Biopharma R&D, Dr. Graham Scholefield, Dr. Matthias Krings and their colleagues will take you on the journey.

They will introduce the game, provide insights as to how its mechanics mirror real life, and monitor your investment and deal making decisions.

Registration Pricing

Student/Postdoc Member$40
Nonmember (Student / Postdoc / Resident / Fellow)$75


Bronze Sponsor



Matthias Krings, PhD


Matthias Krings is a founding Partner of Catenion who lives in Munich, Germany. Matthias became a consultant in 1999 at Mercer Management Consulting and later joined a strategy consulting boutique, Theron. In 2003, he co-founded Catenion.

Matthias has worked for European and global client organizations in Pharma, MedTech and Biotech strategy with a particular focus on R&D portfolio management. He has co-developed and applied specialized approaches and tools to assess and mitigate the technical and scientific risks of pharmaceutical and medical device R&D projects, and has linked these methods and tools to portfolio-level decision-making and corporate strategy. Matthias continuously helps clients master Catenion's consulting approaches and embed them into management routines.

Since 2007 Matthias has headed the executive training and education unit of Catenion, The Catenion Academy, with the goal of significantly improving the way clients manage R&D, value assets, develop project teams and corporate strategies in Pharma, MedTech and Biotech.

Matthias holds a diploma and a doctorate degree in biology from the Ludwig–Maximilians University in Munich. His PhD work was supported by a scholarship from the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds, Foundation for Basic Research in Medicine. While in Academia, Matthias made significant scientific contributions to the field of human evolution. Matthias' and his fellow researchers' analysis of the first-ever DNA sequence from the Neanderthal type-specimen in 1997 continues to be one of the most frequently cited papers in the field of evolution. This study was a major breakthrough and paved the way for further studies on Neanderthal DNA. Recent technological advances have led to the retrieval of entire nuclear genomes of Neanderthals and other pleistocene hominins by Matthias' former colleagues. It is now established that there was a limited degree of interbreeding between modern humans, Neanderthals and the recently identified group of Denisovans.


Sarah Oelsner, MSc, PhD


After studying Pharmacy in Heidelberg and Molecular Genetics in Zaragoza, Sarah joined the R&D department at NIBR, Basel. Following her interest in science, she completed a PhD in Immuno-Oncology at the University of Frankfurt where she developed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-modified lymphocytes to target hematological malignancies, which led to a number of publications. At Catenion she is actively involved in translating the exciting scientific work of our clients into business strategies and helps them to successfully develop their ideas from bench to bedside.

Jonathan Vonnemann, MSc, PhD


Prior to his position at Catenion, Jonathan undertook at PhD in molecular science at the FU Berlin, Germany, in which he quantitatively elucidated multivalency effects of nanomaterials in biomedical applications. Besides several publications in distinguished journals, he won multiple awards for translating his science into a start-up. In work at Catenion he pursues his keen interesting in business and deep science.

Anela Vukoja, PhD


Anela is in her second year at Catenion where she helps clients from the pharmaceutical industry find optimal ways to translate cutting-edge science into novel therapeutics. She has obtained her PhD in neurobiology from the Freie Universitaet in Berlin, Germany for her work on the development of the neuromuscular junction in Drosophila melanogaster. Her interest in neurobiology was cemented already during her master's studies in Graz, Austria when she investigated intracellular trafficking of neurotransmitter receptors for her master's thesis. Anela has completed her grammar school education in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she is originally from.

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