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Why is Pharma Betting So Big on Innovation in Boston?

Xconomy Boston — 

What type of drugs have the greatest potential to fill the void in Big Pharma company pipelines, as the industry barrels toward the well-documented patent expiration crisis of coming years? What are the best techniques pharma companies can use to stimulate innovation at smaller biotech companies? How can drugmakers raise the odds of success in this notoriously risky business? And why is Big Pharma continuing to bet big R&D dollars in partnerships, venture investing, and its own research centers in the greater Boston area?

These are some of the questions we are planning to dig into at the next Xconomy Forum— Pharma’s Bet on Boston Innovation—which is coming up the afternoon of Nov. 4 at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, MA. We are thrilled to have assembled a top-notch group of pharmaceutical executives, biotech CEOs, and venture capitalists with a wide range of perspectives on how to take some of the best ideas at Boston’s great academic centers and help them find new ways to survive and thrive inside some very big companies during the later stages of development.

The keynote speakers for this event will be Deborah Dunsire, the CEO of Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, and Christoph Westphal, the CEO of Sirtris, and the senior vice president of GlaxoSmithKline‘s Centre of Excellence for External Drug Discovery. They both have gone through the experience of leading a growing biotech company, getting acquired by a Big Pharma concern, and then being given more resources and a big mandate to push innovation in Boston instead of being kicked aside and replaced by new leadership, as is often the case.

We also have brought together several biotech CEOs who have put together partnerships or attracted investment from Big Pharma companies, including Joseph Yanchik of Cambridge-based Aileron Therapeutics; Russell Herndon of Cambridge’s Hydra Biosciences; and David Steinberg of Enlight Biosciences. From venture capital, a sector that looks to develop technologies pharma companies might want to buy, we will hear from Campbell Murray of Novartis Venture Funds; Maggie Flanagan LeFlore of MedImmune Ventures (which is owned by Astra Zeneca); Jean George of Advanced Technology Ventures; and Daphne Zohar of PureTech Ventures.

And we’re thrilled to say we have a late addition to the program with Natarajan Sethuraman, the senior director and GlycoFi site head for Merck. He plans to talk about how GlycoFi, the New Hampshire-based company acquired by Merck for $400 million three years ago, is now weaving its faster, cheaper production method for making antibody drugs into Merck’s global operations.

Tickets for this event are selling fast, and there are only nine days left to register. You can find more information about the agenda and how to register here. I’m personally planning to attend, and I look forward to seeing many of our regular readers there at the event. See you next week.

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