The biotechnology sector is growing and new companies have excellent opportunities to successfully establish themselves on the market. Dr. Michael Steinwand explains what companies have to beware of and why it is not only start-up companies that require competent advice. Steinwand is a chemist who works as an innovation and management consultant in the life science area. The journalist Martina Keller-Ullrich, who works within the BIOPRO network on behalf of BioLAGO, talked with Dr. Steinwand.
Despite the high level of complexity of products that is typical of the biotech sector, hardly any major technical or scientific mistakes are made. The majority of mistakes are made at the client interface. And here, the most frequent mistake is that the company managers have a false picture of the specific benefits of the product to the client. The clients are interested in products that have certain advantages for them. The entrepreneur has to be aware of the properties of a product that the clients are most interested in. Taking the aforementioned marker molecules as an example again – it is useless to offer a client a highly sensitive or very rapid analytical platform if one is unable to provide the markers required for the application or if one is unable to provide the marker in the required quantity. Another danger is adopting a kind of “mother hen” behaviour. Companies with an excellent product will do their best to protect this product. Although this is certainly important, it is always equally important to have continuous further development in mind. If necessary, it might also be worth abandoning established concepts in favour of new ones. Otherwise it might happen that an established product is overtaken by a new technology that has a greater benefit to clients. Since the clients are there, it would actually be logical to further develop the new technology, apply it and sell it. However, this step is hardly ever taken because biotech entrepreneurs often concentrate too much on what they have rather than focusing on potential innovations. Then big companies will buy the new technology and leave the small companies behind.