Tag Archives: BD

Startups and the Role of the “Other” Development

Business people

There IS a difference between Business Development and Corporate Development

By: Michael Kaiser

It is an accepted fact that Business Development is not the same as Corporate Development, although they may (or can) intertwine. Even today, business development stands as a euphemism for sales and marketing, but especially in the case of high technology that definition is less acceptable and more complex. Whereas business development is an organic growth, corporate development’s inorganic role is the opposite, with its emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, alliances and joint ventures.

What is Corporate Development?
There are several definitions of Corporate Development but the following ones address the essence of this subject:

A) Corporate Development applies to planning and strategies that assist a company to achieve its goals (Wise Geek -1)

B) Corporate Development refers to the planning and execution of a wide range of strategies to meet specific organizational objectives (Wikipedia – 2)

C) Corporate Development encompasses the various facets of the corporate portfolio, growth, and strategy. (Boston Consulting Group – 3)

Does a startup need a Corporate Development team?
The answer could be “No and Yes”.

“No” because the entrepreneur(s) behind the birth of a new company based on their vision, initiative, creativity, technology, personal values, trade connections, etc. are building their product and/or service offering on the premise that the growth of their business is dependent on sales and marketing. At the onset of a startup, its actions will resemble more those of guerrilla warfare than those of a strategic military operation. And therefore…

Yes” because a lack of growth, or inversely, an unexpected growth demand requires the help of seasoned experts for corrective advice to prevent mistakes and steer the company towards success. And that’s where the professional corporate colonels and generals devise the client’s strategies.

More importantly, a primary reason a startup has to deal with a corporate development team is the need for investment sources, such as venture capital and crowd funding described as the “the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money …to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations… in support of a wide variety of activities, startup company funding, inventions development, scientific research…  Crowd funding can also refer to the funding of a company by selling small amounts of equity to many investors.” (Wikipedia – 2)

Corporate development strategies
The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analyses of startups, mid-sized or large companies is just one basic tool used by corporate development professionals in order to objectively determine and address the challenges and opportunities of new technologies, products and services. Here is a brief example provided by a consulting firm on the subject of some critical questions for an alliance or joint venture case  (Boston Consulting Group – 3):

  • In which areas—geographies, product lines, or functions—might an alliance or joint venture make sense? Is it better than an outright acquisition?
  • For a given opportunity, who are the right potential partners?
  • How can we prepare for alliance or joint venture negotiations—for example, for value capture and split?
  • How can we ensure constructive management and decision making in the alliance?
    • How can we set up an active joint-venture-and-alliance portfolio-management process for evaluating strategic options?

Another consulting firm defines corporate development as a function with three features of excellence (Ernst & Young – 4):

  • Strategic alignment with broader business goals
  • Well-documented transaction processes
  • Close relationships between corporate development and the rest of the organization

The bottom line
As social media, software and hardware applications, local and global connections and narrower opportunity and time horizons emerge due to advanced technologies, startup companies in the life sciences and other high technology sectors have to increasingly depend much earlier on the role of professional corporate development working in unison with a company’s organic business development in order to sustain their financial and market viability.


  1. Wise Geek (http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-corporate-development.htm)
  2. Wikipedia  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_development)
  3. Boston Consulting Group (http://www.bcg.com/expertise_impact/capabilities/corporate_development/default.aspx)
  4. Ernst & Young (http://www.ey.com/GL/en/Services/Transactions/Toward-transaction-excellence–The-DNA-of-the-corporate-development-function)

Suggested reading

  1. Deloitte (http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_US/us/Services/Financial-Advisory-Services/Corporate-Development/696435131bc16310VgnVCM1000001a56f00aRCRD.htm)
  2. Forbes Magazine: (http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottpollack/2012/03/21/what-exactly-is-business-development/)

Picture Credit: © Sudoku | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

The Business of Life Sciences: Using Great Science to Build Great Businesses

Big sand dune with dark shadow on one side

There is no ‘dark side’ to commercializing Life Sciences – just a ‘different dise’.

By Andrew Johnson, Ph.D.

Having a clear understanding of the differences between how science is done from an academic standpoint with how it is done in the typical Life Science company can significantly ease the path from discovery to market success.  To the uninitiated scientist, the commercial team (Sales people, Marketing people, Business Development folks and the Financial Team) has been viewed as ‘the dark side’ and only interested in driving the business and either not understanding or valuing the role of the underlying science.  From the business perspective, there is a concern that company scientists are only concerned with making more discoveries and not pushing towards doing the kind of work required to launch a compelling product.  Neither view is accurate.  Getting a good understanding of the differences can help to align the critical goals of each of these important parts of the life science company and increase the chances for success.

Why the Confusion?
Some of this confusion is caused by the way that scientists are trained in academia.  The increasing pressures that academic scientists are facing to fund their research programs as NIH funding continues to become harder to secure only acerbates this.  New relationships between commercial life science and biotechnology companies with academia, often facilitated by university technology transfer offices, are providing new sources of research capital.  Strategic partnerships, patenting and out-licensing of intellectual property from research conducted in academia are increasingly filling the government sponsored funding gap.  Like it or not, the lines between academic and commercial science have already been blurred.

Confusion is created because academic – commercial partnerships do not really combine the science being done in university labs with the commercialization efforts being done at the outside company.  This separation allows traditional roles and attitudes to remain prevalent.  In a Life Science company, the priorities of the science, the way that it is conducted, how it is validated and decisions on what projects will be worked on and which ones will be discontinued must be driven by commercial priorities.  However, it is equally crucial that the commercial team allows enough freedom to R&D to insure the quality of the experimental and feasibility work and that there is some room for discovery (you never know what killer application you will find or valuable intellectual property your R&D team will develop).

Getting the R&D and Commercial Teams on the Same Side
The following table lists some of the key differences between academic and commercial science.



Research Scope The scope is wide.  New   research findings drive the efforts in often unpredictable ways.  This process is inherently unpredictable   and random. The scope of the experimental program is very focused.  Only work that progresses the science from   feasibility to finished product is encouraged.
Goals Improve understanding of scientific or technical discipline Improve robustness of product and provide initial data to support   applications that will support commercialization
Scientific Validation Publications, Presentations, Patents Product Sales, Patents (as part of a strategic intellectual property   estate)
Funding Sources Grants, Foundation Sponsorships, consulting fees, licensing fees and   royalties Investments, Sales Revenue, licensing fees and royalties


There is no ‘dark side’ in a successful life science company, just a healthy relationship between the scientific and commercial teams.  In both academic and commercial cases, the goal is to produce new technology and science.  The only difference is in the path that each of these endeavors use to achieve this.

Picture Credit:  © Engere | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos