When examining the reasons for success or failure within Biotechnology initiatives (start-ups), different cases often lead to identifying the responsibilities of management, or lack there of. In many cases, there is a clear conflict between the initial informal style that encourages scientific creativity and the discipline required of a private company. These general features are given within Biotech companies in Spain and are virtually replicated in many other countries across Europe.

The development of biotechnology companies has been compared to the ages of man: childhood, adolescence, youth and adulthood. The requirements of managerial skills in these stages differ;  development and growth should be optimized. The executives who adapt to these very diverse periods and requirements are considered exceptional professionals.

Entrepreneur skills often clash with management competences. For an entrepreneur, uncertainty and ambiguity are part of the setting: a comfortable environment; much unlike the orthodox management skills. In order to achieve international dimension, smaller Biotech companies have had to incorporate a professional and diverse board with VP’s having one mission: guaranteeing the present and planning for the future.

Leadership and motivation are crucial foundations. In this competitive marketplace, potential investors seek these skills when searching for Biotech directors or CXO’s. Directors must have clear, long-term objectives as well as the ability to solve problems that arise and not be discouraged with setbacks. When starting a biotechnology company the CEO has to assume responsibility of all different types of problems including intellectual property, financing, R&D delays, Business Development, HR and industrial relations … maybe even the office lease. The CEO must act as an achiever or a doer in all areas which will lead to success.

Communication skills are essential regarding all aspects of the company. The combination of external and internal communication helps to align all departments.

Adapting to change is a necessity. The long-term vision of the company remains in the background as a reference point for a myriad of decisions and actions in the short-term. Even with a clear and positive vision of the future, there must be survival tactics for the company.

Initiative is vital. The relationship with the board of an emerging company is different from that of a large corporation. In a start-up, managers are expected to come with contingency plans to discuss and eventually approve. Diverse investors may have different priorities and represent different expectations of the business, complicating the situation.

The ability to Build Teams, while keeping them aligned and motivated requires tons of emotional intelligence! A start-up company will begin small, however if it is effective and efficient it can succeed in gaining dimension.

Let’s meet in Pamplona this September at BioSpain 2010!