Mostafa Analoui, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of Venture Development and the Technology Innovation Project at UConn. He is also an adjunct professor of Biomedical Engineering.
On November 18, 2019, Dr. Mostafa Analoui met with students and post-docs during an informational seminar at UConn Heath. His seminar came with a wealth of knowledge and experience which he shared regarding the reality of entrepreneurship and innovation within the field of biomedical science.
Before working in venture development, Dr. Analoui was also a professor, academic entrepreneur, successful startup founder, corporate research and development leader, and an investment manager. This career trajectory led him to experience any facets of biomedical innovation and product development to which he shared some of his insights with UConn Health students.
Dr. Analoui explained some of the myths and realities of developing a new drug or medical device and the challenges of working in the biomedical sciences field. He spoke on some of the pros and cons of working in the biomedical field such as, identifying investors, understanding the United States healthcare market, and working through the pre-clinical and clinical trial phases of research and development.
Key take-aways from the seminar:
First, innovation and entrepreneurship is not always a linear journey.
Instead, small steps lead to increased innovation over time. Dr. Annaloui compared biomedical product development to the high jump. Although it might look like the high jump Olympic record gradually increased over time, there were actually new innovations in jump style and approach along the way that made this possible. From the scissors method, to the western roll, to the straddle, and finally the Fosbury flop, each new method allowed for a slightly better high jump. Product development works the same way. Small steps over time lead to innovation and improvement, but this is not a continuous journey. There are plenty of flops and failures along the way that lead to eventual success.
Second, Dr. Analoui mentioned that the first product on the market will not necessarily become the lead.
He brought up the example of statins, a class of drugs used to lower cholesterol. Mevacor, also known as Lovastatin, first entered the market in 1987. However, the statin Lipitor is the best-selling drug of all time and entered the market in ten years later in 1997. Although some believe that being the first to market might give you an advantage, it does not guarantee success. Instead, having a quality product, good investors, and a solid marketing strategy might help you more.
Third, Dr. Analoui addressed the large time and money expenditure that it takes to bring a product to market, and that there is a high risk of failure.
It is important to find investors and realize that it takes about one billion dollars to develop a new molecular entity for a new target. In comparison, it takes a fraction of that, about $100,000, to develop an app. Another point Dr. Analoui hit on was that even if you invest money and time into a product, there is still a very high risk of failure. First, it takes years of research to develop a new drug target. Then, only 5 in 5000 drugs that enter pre-clinical testing enter human trials. Of that, usually only 1 of these 5 drugs will be approved by the FDA. There is high reward associated with drug or medical device innovation, but having a realistic mindset about product development is crucial.
On a final note, Dr. Analoui’s said that there are many ways to get a product into development or to become an entrepreneur. To do so takes a diverse team with varied backgrounds to launch a successful product and the best way to enter this field is to be passionate about your work, have an innovative idea, a business plan, and a realistic mindset about the challenges todays biomedical entrepreneurs face.
This article was written by Dominique Martin
I am currently a first year PhD student in the Biomedical Science program at UConn Health in Farmington, CT. My research involves understanding metabolic changes associated with aging. I originally thought that I wanted to be a veterinarian. However, after getting involved in undergraduate research, I found that I was more drawn to working in a lab and conducting exciting new experiments. Although I just started my PhD, I am interested in learning about the many opportunities within the biomedical science field.