Three important trends in technology transfers

When launching a new product or medicine on the market, an efficient technology transfer between the sending and receiving unit can speed up and improve the process substantially. For companies within the pharmaceutical, biotech, healthcare, cosmetics or medical devices industry this is crucial, to prevent delay and possible loss of income before and during the market launch of their product. 

But how do companies guarantee an efficient tech transfer? On the one hand, there are certain factors that can delay technology transfers, but on the other hand there are factors that add to the success of a transfer. In our earlier blogpost ‘These factors can make or break your technology transfer‘ we listed the main reasons for technology transfer delay and success, based on our earlier research. In this research, we also distinguished three important trends in the field of technology transfers, which we will discuss in more detail below. 

Trend 1: Set-up and organisation of dedicated teams 

For a successful transfer, companies need a mature, dedicated team to guarantee optimal communication and cooperation. In addition, it’s important that the project manager has both technical and soft skills, like communication and organisational skills. Based on these insights, we will see more professionalisation of tech transfer teams in the near future. More and more companies will set-up fixed, dedicated teams within their organisation. Experienced team members are key in this matter, since they are better capable of working in complementary fashion and they have knowledge of the possible risks involved in tech transfer projects. This way, they are more capable of anticipating and tackling these risks, and thus adding to the success of a tech transfer. 

At the same time, companies will pay more attention to the various roles required within such a tech transfer team. Besides the more ‘standard’ roles within the team, including product, quality, supply chain and regulatory affairs experts, ever more companies will add marketing and communications professionals to their team. Although this is not very common in the pharmaceutical industry, we see that other industries, for example the chemical and medical devices industries, are already adapting to this trend. Last but not least, companies are increasingly aware of the role of the project manager. They recognise the fact that the right training is crucial to make sure project managers develop the right set of skills. 

Trend 2: Standardisation and adaptation of best practices

For most companies, the set-up of dedicated tech transfer teams is what we call ‘low-hanging fruit’; a first, relatively easy-to-accomplish step towards successful tech transfer projects. A logical next step and the second trend we distinguish, is the standardisation and adaption of best practices regarding tech transfer projects. Although this is a more long-term, ongoing process, more and more companies focus on standardisation. 

Although many companies have a technology transfer framework in place, every company goes about it in a different way. However, the more experienced companies and teams are, the more processes they will standardise. For example by evaluating every tech transfer project to learn from previous experiences and mistakes. But also by sharing best practices between companies. This especially applies to regions where a lot of companies within the sector are already acquainted with each other, creating an extensive eco system. Belgium is such a region for example. CMOs can also play an important role in spreading best practices, since they work for different companies.

We particularly expect to see more standardisation and adaption of validation processes. In the past, there were always three validation batches required for validation. These days, companies have a tendency to look at the complexity and risk assessment of their specific product or medicine to determine what’s required for validation. This is partly because authorities and legislations expect companies to tune their amount of validations to their own assessment of the risks. In addition, the number of engineering and validation batches needed is one of the key drivers of costs and lead time for companies. That’s why we see a trend in companies working more risk and science-based, following the Quality by Design principles

Trend 3: Rise in the development and use of IT tools

Companies that have dedicated teams and standardised processes and frameworks in place, are ready to implement dedicated IT tools for tech transfers. At this moment, such tools aren’t really available yet. Our research showed that most companies use Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Project or SharePoint as their most important tools during projects. However, because knowledge sharing, standardisation and information and documentation exchange are so important during tech transfers, we will see a rise in the development and use of IT tools for technology transfers. Ideally, these tools support users in their communication, cooperation and the gathering of data and information in one single place. IT tools can also help to keep an eye on the timeline and budget of a project. Last but not least, the right IT tools can support tech transfer teams in their activities and help to roll out the best practices that companies have identified. This way, the right tools complete the circle of the most important technology trends for the coming years.

In our blog series on tech transfers, we zoom in on various aspects of technology transfers, including the drivers of complexity, the role of the project manager and team members and the most important trends in tech transfers. Are you facing a situation in which technology transfers is key? Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss how we can help!  

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