2018 Global life sciences outlook

Innovating life sciences in the fourth industrial revolution: Embrace, build, grow

In 2018, life sciences companies will need to embrace change and uncertainty. To adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, they will need to build forward-looking organisations and establish new collaborative ways of working. The life sciences sector both globally and in Ireland is experiencing quite a bit of disruption and it’s creating transformative opportunities that should be embraced in the near term. The organisations that effectively manage this type of change will be better prepared to improve profitability and stay competitive.

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While emerging technologies are creating a transformative opportunity, scientific advancements are on a record pace. The geopolitical climate is ushering a new era led by the passage of tax reform in the United States and Brexit in the UK. Both of these events directly impact on the Irish Life Science sector and it is clear that Irish organisations are looking for ways to meet the opportunities and challenges coming in 2018. 

Forward thinking organisations will be building:-

  • an adaptable organisation for the future of work
  • a culture of courage to help counter uncertainty
  • data integrity and maximising the value of data
  • patient trust and centricity, across the journey of care
  • a smart, cross-functional regulatory approach   

In order to grow, life science companies will need to continue to look for new partnerships and operating models. Alliances and partnerships will be particularly important for accessing external expertise and technology. And technology companies , both large and small, are already poised to disrupt the industry.


As the industrialisation of life sciences continues to evolve, life science companies should consider these key trends and strategies: 

Embracing change and uncertainity
  • Exponential changes in technology: Artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive technologies, automation and computing power are advancing at an accelerating rate. From improving drug safety and patient outcomes to shortening production times and increasing process efficiencies, technology is disrupting the life sciences industry and allowing companies to provide more custom and targeted patient care.
  • Uncertainty coming from pricing pressures, value-based contracting, the geopolitical climate and tax reforms: Pricing, along with securing market access, is expected to continue to be a top priority for life sciences companies in 2018. Value in the eyes of patients and payers is expected to increasingly drive pricing, not simply cover R&D expenses. Also, tax reforms globally will create incentives and disincentives for the life sciences industry and impact future investments decisions in relation to Ireland and other jurisdictions. In an era of geopolitical uncertainty, the impact on Irish pharmaceutical and medical device companies is still being assessed.
Building forward-looking organisations
  • Future of Work: The future of work will be more networked, devolved, mobile, collaborative, team-based, project-based, and fluid. Organisations need to adapt to new leadership mindsets, work built around technology, a skills-based economy, the evolution of a new AI, and a focus on mission, values and ethics. Informed leaders of the future will recognise these forces of change, how work is being redefined, and the implications for individuals, organisations and public policy.
  • An ethics-driven culture focused on safety and security: This will be a massive focus of regulators in the next few years. Regulators expect the life sciences sector to be proactive, rather than just react to inquiries or defend themselves. Forward-thinkers will also need to anticipate and build the kind of AI-infused world we want to live in, while focusing on security by design and migitating cyber security risks.
  • Data integrity, making data reusable and accessible across silos: The biggest road block to future innovation is everyone working in a very siloed manner. Companies need to create a working environment that values data integrity. As companies move away from silos and start to achieve data integrity, big data and analytics will help unlock the potential of disparate sources of data. Increasingly, data will better serve decision making at the enterprise level and provide a better understanding of emerging risks.
  • Patient trust and centricity: To become more digitally-enabled and patient-centric, life sciences companies are using a range of strategies, including patient-centric corporate culture, collaborative healthcare ecosystem and digital partnerships among others. Organisations are looking to engage patients earlier to better understand unmet needs impacting trial design, patient recruitment and resilience. Products and services that better meet patient needs and improve treatment regimens will receive higher acceptance by payers, providers and regulators.
  • A smart, cross-functional regualtory approach: As regulation timelines fluctuate, all stakeholders will need to continually evaluate the individual and collective impacts of new regulations and take a proactive approach to managing regulatory change. This is evident for Irish companies in the impact of Brexit to the supply chain where regulation factors are already driving changes to registrations. With regulations becoming more global, companies are moving towards self-regulation and a culture of quality. Everyone’s goal is to make processes much simpler, and companies are starting to align their regulatory groups to accelerate the process.


Growing through partnerships and new operating models
  • Alliances and Partnerships: Over the next few years, alliances will become more important for accessing external expertise and technology. New collaborations and partnerships will be established where the best scientific or technological fit can be achieved.
  • New Operating Models: Establishing collaborative ways of working is high on the agenda for life sciences organisations, and will require breaking the constraints of the current system. New operating models will welcome diverse and collaborative efforts from a cross-sector of industries, public and private collaborations, and alliances between nonprofit and for-profit organisations. Companies will want to adopt new capabilities to support external partnerships and collaborations with health systems, patient advocacy groups, and other data aggregators.



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