“There is a call today for dramatic change to move from traditional governance to concrete performance. Companies and investors should recognize firms have multiple constituencies and many types of investors, and the should seek to balance the interests in accordance with their influence on the corporation’s long term success.
Directors should seek to go beyond mere compliance and add value to the corporation.
A core responsibility is to demonstrate greater board engagement with management in the development of strategy, oversight of risk, approval of executive compensation, and transparency.
I recently read an article which said, to no surprise, that the biotech field was no different than other career paths for women, meaning there were few women at the top. This has not been the case in my career as I was the first analyst, not the first woman analyst, for biotechnology and one of the very first consultants to venture capitalists about biotechnology. Many good women followed in my footsteps, and when I started Sequenom, there were few women CEO’s but I did not find that to hinder my fund raising or recruitment. The biotech field has and still does recognize abilities over gender so women step up.
I predicted in the early 1980’s that the engine that was created then would become the pharma of the future. The prediction has become reality, as most of the early biotech companies formed in the 1970-80’s now have names like Roche, Novartis, and Amgen one of the remaining originals has a market cap equal to Pfizer. The next next new thing is Synthetic Biology
I was asked to join a panel on Risk from a Board member’s perspective at the 65th annual convention of the Society in Colorado Springs last week and found a weath of information about new governance procedures and the new paid role of the whistleblower for the SEC which may be game changing. SEC reporting in the small and mid cap companies is a daunting task, because you are managing and monitoring the securites disclosure process internally and doing “more with less”. How to effectively use outside counsel is key, because small and mid sized companies rarely have insiders who know all the pitfalls around equity plans and stock exchange listing requirements.
The issues for smaller reporting companies are numerous and becoming more so with the impact of reporting requirements using XBRL. Inside the company someone must read the rules-SEC, applicable exchange, state law and relevant proxy advisory positions, as well as monitor new developments, suce as Dodd-Frank updates. The role of the Corporate Secretary is key.
Documents are a team effort and involve legal, financial, investor relations, communications, auditing, HR, risk management functions( which are different for biotech, than other industries.) The draftspersons need to know: the company and its operations and history, competitior disclosures, management and/or investor “hot buttons” and the personalities involved. Managing more entrpreneurial businesses and personalities involves obtaining buy-in at an early stage and educating and managing less eperienced executives and directors. I for one would like to see methods of teaching and processes that apply some consequences if the directors don’t continue their education. Do you have helpful stories and ideas to share?
The financial downturn in the western world has driven the growth of life sciences into the hands of researchers who depend on government grants. The future of building science based companies has become a global agenda not just a western world phenomenon. China, India and Australia all are racing to be added to the global wave of Science Futures.,joining with the United States and Europe to build an independent network of science.
What the 21st century will see is a shift from company start ups to well researched science projects which have been spin-outs of pharmaceutical companies. Science projects will also be underwritten by foundations like The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and with government grants and government directed programs which are in the interest of expanding technology, security and infrastructure. Mergers will occur which will align social media with patient needs. Technology will be used to predict drug outcomes allowing for personalized medicine.
The venture capital shift that has happened recently includes pharmaceutical companies who fund and then spin out their own programs into small business units, and ask these units to find external funding from other financiers.
Pharmaceutical companies have in- house venture capital units which look to fund outside science -based companies who may be in alignment with their internal research objectives. Large companies are not as nimble or productive as small focus research companies with dedicated teams and less middle management