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July 7, 2021

Challenges and Best Practices for Managing Biotech Boards

Biotech boards of directors have to manage challenges that are unique to running an effective, science-based board. A typical board meeting involves packed agendas with disparate topics, including governance, overall direction and strategy, compensation, financial audits, and budget reviews.

Managing successful biotech boards calls for expertise, transparency, and abundant discussion, which can be hard to come by due to their inherent complexity. Plus, board members often have extensive scientific, medical, and/or engineering education, but they lack experience when it comes to board management.

6 Challenges Facing Biotech Boards of Directors:

  1. Science Advisory Boards. Often composed of non-employee users, SABs are valuable in providing perspective and determining program and portfolio strategy. But they can also be expensive, and more people invariably means more opinions, which can derail meetings.
  2. ESG. Biotech companies are particularly scrutinized for their performance on Corporate Social Responsibility, especially ESG. Companies and boards that demand high ESG standards receive higher sustainability scores
  3. High levels of risk. Risk is inherent in biotech. Focus on risk mitigation through governance tools.
  4. ROI. Biotech boards already face a long and unforgiving R&D process, and generally, only offer ROI to their shareholders in the form of downstream profits.
  5. Privacy and security. The dependence on digital data makes maintaining patient privacy mission-critical. Ensure your data is secure. 
  6. Highly regulated. Biotech boards need to adhere strictly to the policies and regulations set by the EPA, USDA, and/or FDA, depending on their products.

For biotech boards to succeed, they need a comprehensive management process that will facilitate efficient and effective communication. This will ensure that your board is working cohesively toward the same goals. 

7 Best Practices for Managing Biotech Boards of Directors:

  1. Find members who truly want to serve. Many people choose to become biotech board members because they like the way it looks on their resume and LinkedIn profile. When you’re selecting your board, make sure you’re picking people who have proven they’ll be active and contributing members.
  2. Hire for your weak spots. Your board members should bring wide-ranging skills and experience. A well-rounded board is agile, and able to present distinct solutions to various challenges. 
  3. Communicate frequently. Be sure to set up calls between meetings, and to send updates and information on a regular basis. This ensures all board members are on the same page and can work constructively during meetings. 
  4. Strive for independent thinkers. Good ideas can come from anywhere. Effective boards should have members who think differently from each other. Various viewpoints and perspectives ensure that your board has multiple options for strategy, goal setting, and problem solving. 
  5. Set specific objectives. Make sure your board members know what the goals are—from how often you’ll meet to how you’ll effectively manage a crisis. Make sure everyone’s aligned regarding how you’re going to meet and exceed those goals. 
  6. Foster diversity. Boards that include diverse members strengthen their ability to manage challenges, make strategic decisions, and ensure long-term growth. 
  7. Make sure your board is prepared. Share materials several days in advance and assume the board members have reviewed them. Don’t waste valuable time walking through all the information/slides/documents during meetings. 

Well-run biotech boards of directors work toward the goals and objectives of their companies, while paying close attention to the regulatory and political influences that can be unique to the biotech space.

There are many resources available, including board management technology that can help biotech boards streamline processes and ensure clear communication, both of which are essential for successful biotech board management. 

About Govenda

Govenda is the modern board portal software and trusted technology partner in meeting corporate governance challenges. Offering unmatched ROI, robust security, and premium support, Govenda is the engine that powers complex performance in the board room and virtually. Govenda’s superior approach—with features such as its unlimited user model and free account migration service—make it the governance tool corporations need to help mitigate risk and ensure board engagement.

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