Fireside Chat With Giacomo Chiesi, Head of Global Corporate Development, Chiesi Group #210
08
November

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /


So I think people have a lot of interest in
the fact that your company is so successful. And as a family run business, you know, and
I think that’s really a wonderful thing, based in Parma, Italy, but of course, with global
reach. And you know, at StartUp Health, we talked
a lot about mindsets and what mindsets entrepreneurs need to have in order to succeed and really,
with all other factors being equal, a positive or negative mindset or one with or without
commitment could make the difference of failure or success. Do you feel that with Chiesi, with your family
and your team, there are certain mindsets that that you all have adopted that have led
to your success? Yeah, so first of all, it’s a great question. It’s certainly true that we have a common
mindset across the company. And I think there are probably two or three
things that we all have in common that we share. Number one, we do not just pursue growth for
the sake of growth, we want to pursue sustainable and sustained growth. I think sustain is self explanatory. But sustainable for us means that we just
don’t care only about maximizing shareholder value, or we don’t just care about taking
the product to the patients. We care about society at large in nature and
the environment. And we tried to make the best use of resources
in this way, in a circular way that make such utilization of resources sustainable for the
planet. Second thing is we are go getters, we’re very
entrepreneurial as people. Each and every one of our employees is a go
getter and we pursue our objectives and our goals relentless and we never, ever give up
until we get that thing done. And I think the third aspect is that we are
very open minded as a company and as people. We are truly committed to innovation and we’re
very open to embrace new technologies, state of the art technologies that are probably
now you know, that’s that’s a good time to speak about the technologies and it’s a momentous
time to bring new innovation to the patients. That’s great. Well, we’re obviously very excited to partner
with Chiesi and one of the initiatives that we could announce here today together is that
we, you know, Chiesi has had some some great therapeutic areas of focus being respiratory,
neonatology, amazing life saving drugs for newborn infants that just blew my mind when
you were telling me about it. And also rare diseases. An area that is very underserved in terms
of research, in terms of new solutions. And so we’re announcing together a call for
innovations to the ecosystem to look for solutions around rare diseases. I’d love if you could share a little bit
more about what we’re looking for, how you could potentially integrate solutions at Chiesi. But you know what kinds of solutions around
rare diseases are going to be hitting the mark? Right, so first of all, thanks for the call
for innovation. I think it’s a great initiative and we’re
thrilled to be able to be an active part to it. And as you correctly said it Katya rare diseases
is one of the pillars for our company’s growth in the future. And so when we think about rare diseases,
what we want to address is the entire patient journey. I think it’s time that everyone realizes that
the healthcare industry is now changing. And it’s not just about providing a pharmaceutical
product to the patients. But it’s providing a full blown pharmaceutical
solution or a full blown solution to the patients that addresses the patient’s physiological
needs, the patient’s behavioral needs, in case there are any. Think about COPD, you know, behavior, meaning
smoking, and, you know, the causality between smoking and COPD is clearly an evidence of
behavioral needs in that case, and I think if you want to be part of the solution, as
opposed to being part of the problem, you also need to address the deficiencies of the
system of care which surrounds the patients. So in terms of rare diseases, there are a
lot of companies that are now focusing on rare diseases, which are larger, and perhaps
even more successful than us. So we take a very humble part in this game. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not bold
and that doesn’t mean that we’re not here to serve the patients. Quite the opposite. When we think about rare diseases and we think
about the solutions, we think about bringing to the patient’s new technologies that simplify
the communication between the patients, the patient’s families, the physicians, and
the patients community to be able to reduce the issue of disease and awareness. A lot of these rare diseases are pretty much
unknown. I’m thinking about a disease that we are now
treating with the first enzyme replacement therapy that was ever approved Lamzede for
Alpha- Mannosidosis, this is the name of the disease. We can only count 200, 250 patients on the
planet with that disease. But the number of patients doesn’t is not
important for us, it doesn’t matter to us. What matters to us is the patients and increasing
the disease awareness is important. Second thing that we want to do is improve
via protocols or in other ways the disease diagnosis. It normally takes between five and seven years
to get to the right diagnosis if you have a very rare disease, and that’s a clear societal
problem. And number three it’s important to be able
to monitor carefully the evolution of the disease. And I believe we’re now seeing a certain level
of maturity in some technologies that will help us better track and monitor the evolution
of disease for these patients. That’s great and I can’t wait to see, you
know what companies come out of the woodworks as we put this campaign into action. And so when companies think about, okay, great. I want to apply to the StartUp Health Moonshot
Academy part of this program. I want to work with Chiesi. In our recent issue of the magazine, you and
your colleague, Ameya, penned a really interesting article about, you know, what does it mean
to partner with a mid sized pharma company, everybody goes for the giants, right? And because the names are just, you know,
there’s more awareness. But there’s some really unique advantages
for companies, whether they’re startups or otherwise, to partner with a mid sized pharma
with an appetite for risk or an ability to experiment. What are some of the things that you all highlighted
for those that didn’t read that? Sure. So first of all, I’d like to give a lot of
credit to Ameya was the actual author of that piece, I probably wrote 5% of it, so he deserves
all the credit. Second thing that I’d like to make as a preamble
is that what I’m about to say, is not to be regarded as or conceived of as a detriment
to our competitors or larger companies. Quite the opposite. A lot of the StartUp Health portfolio companies
might think that larger companies and non mid sized companies or large companies in
general, are better partners, and that’s totally fair. With all that said, I think there are a few
advantages of partnering with mid sized companies. I think the first one is that you’re looking
at very focus use cases and user experiences, so to say. Mid sized companies, by nature, tradition,
history, are focused on few therapeutic areas. Normally two, three, perhaps four therapeutic
areas and not focused on 10,12 different therapeutic areas. And because of their tradition, and history,
they are normally focused on some and only some specific geographical regions. So because of that, you’re looking at a much
more focused and use case, which in a lot of cases is helpful if you’re thinking about
a soft launch of a pilot before you, you go towards a larger patient population. Another aspect that I believe is worth mentioning
here is mid sized companies are, at least in our experience, you know, you’re less likely
to face headwinds, and you’re less likely to face a lot of internal politics with midsize
companies. Midsize companies have to take care of business
as much as large companies have to do, but mid sized companies have a lot more limited
bandwidth. So they really care about what they do in
every single moment. And therefore, it’s probably likely that you’re
not going to find a lot of politics and a lot of headwinds and a lot of different ranks
that you have to go through to get the deal done with the mid sized companies. And then I think lastly, and that’s certainly
I believe, certainly true for family businesses. With mid sized companies, you tend to have
a bit more longevity of vision, mission strategy and leadership teams, it’s just that particularly
family businesses tend to be focused more on the longer term prospects of businesses
and many of them are not public listed. So a company like Chiesi, you know, we’re
not focused on the next quarter report. We can really, truly maximize the value for
the partner because what we care about is the actual value that is generated over the
long term for the asset from the partnership. So it was a year ago that Chiesi and StartUp
Health actually met at the Festival, began our conversation. And I think it was early in the spring you
and I met for the first time. And this was Chiesi’s first investment in
digital health, the StartUp Health fund, which I think is very exciting and a great way to
put your, not just your toe, your foot in the water, maybe your whole leg. So I know this year, you’ve seen a lot of
different companies, solutions, you’ve been, you know, reviewing lots of deals. What have you learned about this space in
the last year that you found exciting or even surprising? So, I think what we’ve learned in the last
year or so by looking at the opportunities is number one, that as a pharmaceutical company,
we have a certain mindset that I’ve alluded to before. And that’s a very different mindset than smaller
companies, which are focused on a different industry, for example, technology. The lingo, the jargon, the vocabulary is different,
the way we operationalize our procedures and our solutions. And yes, ops that help us get solutions and
products to the patient is different than what technology companies do. Definitely different. And the other aspect is that from, always
from a mindset standpoint, we conceive of risk in a very different way. I think if I can summarize the risk orientation
culture that we have at Chiesi, that’s, I don’t know if that’s different than most other
technology companies out there. But the way we look at risk is you can’t run
away from risk. You just can’t. You know the, if your philosophy and your
mission is pursue opportunity, then you’re pursuing risk. You shouldn’t run away from risk. You should attack risk. And when you attack risk, that means you should
go in and demolish it by decomposing it into its its pieces, its components and tackle
the components one by one. So the way we generate value is exactly this. By taking risk and attacking it as opposed
to running away from it. I’ve seen a lot of companies that do quite
the opposite over time. And when you’re a smaller company, you can’t
just run away from risk, just embrace it and demolish it. The last part the part is about failure. Failure can be lethal for a midsize company,
it can also be lethal for a small company. I think it’s important to realize that it
doesn’t really matter how many times you fail, because, you know, let me just open up the
door for perception here. It’s not likely that you will fail, it’s a
certainty. You are going to fail, everybody’s going to
fail at some point. The question is not really whether you’re
going to fail or not. The question is, how quickly are you going
to get back up and fight for what you think is valuable to fight for. And I think those are the things I’ve seen
differentiated us from some of the companies we looked at. I love that. I love the attacking failure, not running
from it and getting back up. I mean, that really speaks to the entrepreneurial
mindset that you all have internally. I think that’s something that we recognized
in each other right away. So we’re almost out of time here. And I’d love to ask you the same question
I ended with Marco, which is what is your personal health moonshot, either for you personally,
or the one that you see that, you know, really speaks to the most that you’d love to see,
you know, achieved? A personal one is probably drive my resting
heartbeat to 40. Right now, it’s about 60. And my blood pressure is good. It’s about 110 over 60. So I’m doing okay. But I like to move it down and become fully
bradycardic and be happy about it and drive it to 40. And then a second one is over the next two
to three years, be able to run a marathon. Okay, those are great, great things to aspire
to. And I don’t doubt you’ll do it. So thank you so much for your partnership,
and for joining me on stage today. Thanks for having me.


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