finding "deep edge"

I've recently noticed more tech scouting requests come in from of our Pharma clients.


What's interesting is that while they often have talented BD and external innovation teams, their common challenge is that they're seeing the same opportunities that their competitors are seeing.


They're using the same databases (e.g., PitchBook), attend the same industry conferences and have overlapping professional networks that share similar opportunities.


It's a real challenge.


Often, by the time a company gets on a database or attends an industry conference, there's very little "edge" left.


This becomes doubly difficult when the company is high-grade as bidding wars can break out and the deepest-pocket players often win.


So how does one create "edge" and build the highest-quality pipeline?


Here's a reflection on three ways that deep edge can be generated - these methods are often deployed by VCs, and have been shown to help corporate executives leapfrog the competition.


ℹ️ Informational Edge: Knowing something before the competition by using different, non-obvious and deeper sources. While this type of 'knowledge arbitrage' is often short-lived, in ecosystems like Singapore, Israel and Taiwan, one can still find high quality opportunities that are ‘off database'. This requires boots-on-the-ground and strong local relationships with VCs, TTOs, incubators, accelerators and service providers. It also helps to have a unique and motivating value-story and local brand so that innovators can approach you first.


🔄 Process Edge: 90% of scouts deploy similar processes (e.g., create a wish list, find, diligence, partner). Imagine having the exact same information as your competitors but processing it differently - a process that's faster or that can extract insights that your competitors are missing? I've had clients with unique ways of speeding up internal tech validation and adoption, giving them edge over the competitors who would spend months conducting diligence and convincing internal stakeholders to bring an innovation in-house.


🧠 Mindset Edge: VCs know that innovation takes time and often have a 7-10 year horizon. Having a different time horizon than the competition opens up new possibilities. Some of our more adventurous clients also deploy 'Model 2.0' scouting, exploring and co-creating deep-tech that's beyond Pharma (e.g., voice tech from the defence industry that extracts stress levels from phone calls, adapted to predict inflammatory and cardiac events in patients) and even go beyond tech for solving some of their most pressing problems.


So as more Pharma companies continue to become more open to looking outside their four walls for innovation, I'm hoping that some of these insights could help increase their probability of success.


They win. Patients win. Innovators win.


Below is a doodle I created to capture some of my thinking.


Happy hunting!



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