How Finance 4.0 can deliver cutting-edge technology to the pharmaceutical industry
SummaryHow Finance 4.0 can deliver cutting-edge technology to the pharmaceutical industry
The pharmaceutical industry is increasingly making use of modern digitalised technology to automate specific processes in drug development, testing and manufacturing, one UK based company predicts they will be able to commercialise printed tablets (using 3D printing) within the next 5 to 10 years. New techniques such as personalised medicine, where the care and treatment of patients moves away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach and instead uses diagnostics, genomics and data analytics to identify the underlying cause of disease, have encouraged a wave of activity in the biotech sector, with several companies now offering a range of complex gene editing services.
Similarly, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to revolutionise healthcare generally and has already taken a role in drug creation by recently identifying existing medicines that could be redesigned to treat the Ebola virus. By using supercomputers to root out therapies from a database of molecular structures, the company leading this work found two drugs, predicted by AI technology, which may significantly reduce Ebola infectivity. This analysis, which typically would have taken months or years, was completed in less than one day.
The impact of digitalisation is far reaching, and it enables pharmaceutical companies to streamline and speed up basic business processes too. In the manufacturing process, for example, improved technologies such as capsule filling machines can help to reduce waste and increase speed of production, resulting in faster output. Companies can also acquire highly modern and sophisticated test equipment for laboratory analysis. These state-of-the-art immunoassay systems radically improve test productivity, accuracy and detail through optimal sample processing. Used in the early stages of drug development, this technology can streamline workflow, enhance operational efficiency, and support improved patient care.
Packaging can also be improved with the right technology. Using smart (or intelligent) packaging can benefit pharmaceutical companies which could use sensors to monitor environmental conditions during storage and delivery including temperature, humidity and damage, to ensure that medicines are effective when they reach the patient.
Smart packaging for medicines and devices could feature printed sensors that can also be used to help with patient compliance. This is a major issue, because patients that do not take their medicines as prescribed risk their health and also contribute to significant economic losses for healthcare providers.
It is clear that digitalised technology is rapidly changing; improving and modernising healthcare. To harness the benefits of this new technology it is vital that pharmaceutical companies devise strategies to keep up with the digital revolution.
Acquiring technological innovations can help produce costs savings while ensuring high-quality outputs and waste reduction. Nevertheless, keeping pace with technological advancements requires considerable capital expenditure. Against this backdrop, more and more manufacturers are turning to a range of smart and appropriate financing techniques – known as Finance 4.0 –to help them to sustainably invest in the new fourth-generation of digitalised technology and automation equipment. Finance 4.0 covers a range of requirements from the acquisition of a single digitalized piece of equipment, right through to financing a new pharmaceutical process.
Finance 4.0 can include models which seek to align payments for the new generation technology with the benefits they produce. The emergence of a new generation of digitalised technology that links people, technology and organisations has made it possible to closely align what is paid by private- or public-sector organisations with the expected business benefits. Finance and technology are being combined into an integrated value proposition where the solution provider offers organisations the possibility of paying for expected business outcomes, such as productivity improvements, optimised uptime, precise performance gains, cost reduction or reduced energy usage. In healthcare, the business outcomes in focus might be: increased quality and accuracy of the diagnosis or therapy (to improve patient outcomes), reduced cost per procedure (consultation, diagnosis, surgery, other therapy), improved patient throughput rates (more people get more treatment with constrained premises and human resources) and early and accurate detection (to improve patient health prospects and avoid distressing and expensive lifetime therapies for chronic illnesses).
The abillty to offer outcomes-based solutions required considerable knowledge of the technologies involved, along with their likely impact on the user organisation. That “intimacy” with technology and its applications does not tend to be something that most generalist financiers can offer. It requires specialist knowledge and wide experience, along with a close relationship between solution provider and financing partner.
Specialist financiers such as Siemens Financial Services are more inclined and more able to create customised financing packages that fit the specific requirements of a business – for instance, flexing the financing period to suit the customer’s cash flow. This contrasts with the standard financing terms usually available from generalist financiers.
If companies in the UK’s pharmaceutical industry want to remain competitive and keep pace with industry growth, acquiring the latest sector technology is a crucial step. UK pharmaceutical companies should exploit the enhanced potential offered by advanced equipment and modern technology. Instead of tying up precious capital in equipment acquisition, pharmaceutical companies can utilise a range of smart and appropriate financing techniques. With the help of alternative financing, pharmaceutical companies can deploy funds more effectively in research and development – a crucial area that underpins the sector’s ability to make a vital contribution to raising healthcare service quality.
 Medical Futurist, top 10 trends shaping the future of pharma, 2017, http://medicalfuturist.com/top-10-trends-shaping-future-pharma/
 The Telegraph, Gene editing revolutionising pharmaceuticals industry, February 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/02/05/gene-editing-revolutionising-pharmaceuticals-industry/
 Medical Futurist, Artificial Intelligence will redesign healthcare, 2017, http://medicalfuturist.com/artificial-intelligence-will-redesign-healthcare/
 Siemens Financial Services, International clinical laboratory science specialist acquires state-of-the-art immunoassay system
 See, for instance, McKinsey, “Digitizing the Value Chain,” March 2015; Industry Week, a Transatlantic Race to Digital Manufacturing, August 25, 2016.