Miranda Weston-Smith BioBeat14

Disrupting the status quo in biotech

By Rachel Holdsworth - 09 October 2014

Biotechology has shaken up the business environment, creating new ways of thinking and a model for open innovation that is being adopted by other industries, according to Miranda Weston-Smith speaking ahead of BioBeat14, St Catharine’s College, Cambridge UK, 23rd October 2014.

Weston-Smith has advised many biotech entrepreneurs and looking back over the last 10 years she can see the impact that they have made both on the pharma industry and beyond.

“Biotechnologists came straight from academia and started to commercialise their work without first joining one of the large established companies.  This created a major disruptive influence on the status quo.  For the first time instead of innovation being produced from within the organisation there became scope for pharmaceutical businesses to fill their product pipelines by ‘purchasing’ interesting molecules and technology from small organisations. “

“Large pharmaceutical companies started to outsource the elements of their businesses that were not core competencies and to look outside for new ideas and approaches.”

“As a result the life sciences sector has seen a radical restructure with the growth of clusters of businesses with mutual dependences.  This is continuing with new communities, which by working collaboratively are increasing our understanding of the action of therapeutics at a gene level.  This has led to the detection of novel biomarkers, stem cell treatments and has created opportunities for personalised and preventative medicine.” 

“The result is not just diversification of the industry but also has driven the creation of new business models and a need for a variety of skills sets.”

“Although I have seen an increasing proportion of women in leadership roles at all levels in bio companies this has not been reflected by the number of women on the podium, cited as thought leaders in the media, or on investor panels.  As a result, the industry has been missing their insights and valuable role models they can provide to younger scientists.”

To address this issue Weston- Smith developed the concept of “50 Movers and Shakers in BioBusiness 2014” and challenged the industry to recognise the contribution that senior women are making.

She explains: “I saw the potential for female leaders to inspire the next wave of bio innovation and build a stronger life sciences sector.” 

“Research suggests that women adopt different strategies for business growth from novel ways of building companies and working in teams to raising funds and attitudes to risk.”

BioBeat14 aims to look at the next generation of business ideas with a debate on Leading in a Collaborative World to tease out how bio companies can stay ahead with new ways of working and adapting to ever changing global health needs.   As the biotech industry comes of age the entrepreneurs who benefitted in the early wave now have money, and the appetite, to invest in new approaches.

She says: “Investors invest in people, and the suggestion is that recruiting the ‘same again’ is detrimental to the future growth of a company.”  

“Increasing the visibility of dynamic women in companies, research, hospitals, finance and advisory roles with their visions and boldness brings fresh thinking and opportunities for bio entrepreneurs.   We can double our life science business potential.”

5.30 – 8.30 pm, Thursday 23 October 2014, St Catharine’s College, Cambridge


5.30 – 6.00 pm            Registration

6.00 – 7.00 pm            Panel debate:  Leading in a collaborative world

It’s a more competitive world, and we will win by being more collaborative.  The panel will explore leadership in funding, teams, operations and business models:

Maina Bhaman, Director Healthcare Ventures, Imperial Innovations plc

Ruth McKernan CBE, Senior Vice President, Pfizer and CSO, Pfizer Neusentis

Carina Namih, CEO and Co-founder, HelixNano

Carmel Reilly, CEO and Co-founder, NeurocentRx Pharma

Chair: Louise Wood, Deputy Director/Head of Research Infrastructure and Growth, Department of Health

7.00 – 8.30 pm            Networking with refreshments

Meet with many of the 50 women movers and shakers, open up new contacts and discuss your ideas for growing a bio venture.

Find out more about the event and register:

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