Medical Innovation Exchange

Lifting the lid on biotech’s future potential

Biotech is an industry that remains ripe for innovation.  

In this digital interview, Alexandra Canale, Managing Director, uncapped communications, sheds light on some of the key trends at the leading edge of the sector.

“I think the real opportunity for biotech is embracing AI and the endless possibilities that it has, seeing it not just as that bolt-on tool, but as a central piece of the engine of business that really frees up the human mind,” she tells us.

As well as touching on the transformative potential of artificial intelligence in relation to R&D and scientific innovations, Canale also highlights the impact it can have on communications.

Here, central talking points include the importance of authenticity and conveying key values when articulating organizational stories, using tech as a supplementary tool in brand building and cultivating competitive advantages. Canale explains how this is more important than ever before in a post-pandemic era where populations are more educated on health and wellness.

Listeners will also gain valuable tips for winning the battle for talent amid a boom in demand for biotech professionals, with advice for companies on maximizing future industry opportunities.

For some truly unique and insightful perspectives from one of the brightest women in biotech, check out the full interview.

Rebecca Willumson: Hi there. My name’s Rebecca Willumson. I’m the publisher of Fierce Biotech, and I’m here today with Alex Canale, Managing Director of uncapped communications. Alex, thanks for joining me today.

Alex Canale: Thanks so much for having me.

Rebecca Willumson: So before we begin, can you tell us a little bit about your background and your role at uncapped?

Alex Canale: So as you mentioned, I currently lead uncapped which is an agency under the GCI Group umbrella, which is focused primarily on helping early and mid-stage biotechs really uncap their potential ranging from really thoughtful corporate positioning work through helping them commercialize their first and subsequent products into the market. My background is in a mix of corporate and product communications, and I actually started my career in financial services before moving into healthcare where I felt like my skills were answering to a bit of a higher and more meaningful calling, but I’ve been doing reputation building communications, work my entire career and have an amazing team and set of clients that I’m really fortunate to work with today.

Rebecca Willumson: So, while we think about the future of biotech, where do you see the biggest opportunity for the industry moving forward?

Alex Canale: When I think about biotech, I like to think about what it’s not. It’s sort of always been defined that way. It’s not traditional pharma. It’s not expected. And while biotech certainly benefited from all of the pandemic era attention on science and companies doing really innovative things in healthcare, biotech has always really operated in its own environment. And there’s an opportunity right now, I think, to not let the current environment define your circumstance. So when I think about the future of biotech, it’s especially from where we sit right now, in this less than bull market, the companies that are going to come out on top are those who can really take ownership of their stories, have a really solid scientific foundation, and demonstrate their value in a meaningful way. I think there’s huge opportunity for companies to tangibly show the reasons to believe in their science, believe in their story, believe in their leadership, and there’s also an opportunity to really put a fine point on the ways that they are able to be an attractive employer.

There’s an absolute boom in biotech jobs and demand for talent these days, but the supply hands down doesn’t meet the demand. So I think in order to fuel the engine that biotechs need to survive that talent engine, companies really need to show why top talent should pick ’em versus 10, 15, 25 other offers they have and are looking at. But I really see the biggest opportunity being for biotechs to continue to do what they’ve always done, be first movers, be nimble, embrace a fail fast learning model, and be a best place to work despite the market environment in which they’re operating and really articulate their value proposition independently without letting the market and market conditions write their stories for them.

Rebecca Willumson: So what emerging technologies or scientific advancements do you believe will be of the most significant impact on the biotech industry in the next decade?

Alex Canale: Well, I’m sure a lot of people would have this answer, but I really do think that the elephant in the room, AI is the technology that’s going to have the most significant impact. That said, I think right now people think about AI as a tool, sort of a bolt on that’s used in partnership with a lot of other things to drive drug development. But I think what’s really next is thinking about how AI can be something that underpins all of our business activities, whether that’s r and d or stakeholder engagement or market modeling and in communications testing, messaging and concepts in artificial and real world scenarios. There’s tools that are already being used to measure the impact of communications. There’s so many more coming very, very quickly down the pike. And I think there’s tools that are being used to combat misinformation, to enable open source data, to understand and predict the trajectory of issues, to see how they impact value and reputation and so many others. And I think the real opportunity for biotech is embracing AI and the endless possibilities that it has, seeing it not just as that bolt-on tool, but as a central piece of the engine of business that really frees up the human mind to do those things that only the human mind can do.

Rebecca Willumson: So what’s something companies can do now to create value in the marketplace?

Alex Canale: It’s widely understood and appreciated that the pandemic increased interest in the companies behind the products, especially in healthcare. There’s now this whole population that’s so much better educated, so much more in touch with the companies and people who are making these scientific innovations and the companies that’ll be at the forefront of the discoveries and the innovations of tomorrow. But with that said, one thing that companies can do to create value is to double down on that and really invest on crystallizing and telling their corporate stories. And by taking that time to articulate who you are as a company and infusing that across your scientific engagements, your stakeholder engagements really elicits understanding and trust and value and serves as a foundation for a longstanding relationship with stakeholders, which in and of itself I think is incredibly valuable in today’s market.

Rebecca Willumson: Well, that is all the questions that I have. I think this is a great place to stop. Thanks so much for joining me today, appreciate it.

Alex Canale: Thank you so much.

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