Selling to Biotech After the COVID Cliff

Are you wondering how the pandemic will change the biotech landscape and your prospecting work? We were, too – so we dug into the data and invited the Zymewire community to help us understand whether there’s a “COVID Cliff” coming, and how to prepare for biotech prospecting after the pandemic.

In this blog post, we outline some of the key topics and questions that were addressed in our recent webinar and accompanying eBook titled “Selling to Biotech After the COVID Cliff.”

If you would like to dive deeper and explore these topics and the answers to the questions in greater detail, we will have links to both the webinar and the eBook at the end of this blog post.


Leveraging the Zymewire BD Community

The insights in this blog post, webinar, and eBook have been gleaned from our 10 years of learning from our community to innovate and improve the user experience. 

During the last year alone, we had:

  • 8,000+ email exchanges with the BD community regarding use cases, best practices, and new feature ideas
  • More than 3,000 live hours of conversation with the BD community across the world, helping us understand both the challenges and the opportunities during the pandemic 

And we learned from leaders in our experienced, global client community:

  • More than 350 business development teams around the world who depend on Zymewire to help them reach their sales goals
  • 19 of the top 20 Global Clinical CROs
  • 5 of the top 6 Global Contract Manufacturers
  • Based in more than 50 countries

Let’s take a look at some of the key topics that were covered…


Watch the full webinar or download the eBook.

Trends We Are Seeing

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world, and the clinical development community in particular has been affected by dramatic shifts. 

If you have been asking yourself, “How will these shifts affect my biotech prospecting in 2021?” – you are not alone. 

To understand how the funding landscape in North America has changed over the last year, we used Zymewire data and gathered industry leaders to explore how those changes might affect your prospecting to biotech as we move into the second half of 2021 and beyond.

To understand whether a cliff is coming, we explored a few key trends:

Funding of US Biotech companies

Biotech was a booming sector before the pandemic, with $69.9B invested in 2019 into US biotech companies alone. But that investment exploded in 2020, rising over 60% to $112.9B. While that substantial increase is key to understanding the changing landscape, it doesn’t tell the whole story.


To get the whole story, we wondered:

  • How many companies benefited from this increased funding?
  • How much of the funding was COVID-related?
  • Were small companies able to access funding as easily as large companies?
  • Was having COVID assets sufficient to access funding in the second half of 2020?


COVID Participation Rates

Another important trend we explored was the number of companies working on COVID projects.

This prompted us to look for answers to a couple of important questions:

  • Many would think that a large number of companies were working on COVID in 2020 (either therapeutic or vaccine) – but was this the reality? 
  • How many of those companies working on COVID have reached Phase III?


Clinical Trial Volumes

The last trend we explored was related to the growth rate of clinical trials during the pandemic year, which led us to consider several questions:

  • How many clinical trials were conducted during the pandemic year versus the previous year?
  • What was the growth rate?
  • What, if any, impact did the COVID pandemic have on the growth rate?


Cliff Hunting…

Next, we discussed the so-called “Covid Cliff,” which can be defined as: “A period where we see a sharp drop in spending from biotech companies on services related to COVID drug development – because the pandemic is over and COVID is no longer a thing.”

We wanted to know:

  • What does the data say about the COVID cliff debate?
  • How about the experts? Do they think there will be a steep drop-off or a more gradual landing?
  • Will funding for COVID vaccines start to dry up?
  • Will there be funding available for vaccines for COVID mutations (if they end up being needed) or will anti-virals and therapeutics be the focus?

After analyzing the data, collaborating with our community, and hearing from the experts, we offered six suggestions for selling to Biotech after COVID (which we go into much deeper detail about in both the webinar and the eBook):


Watch the full webinar or download the eBook.

6 Suggestions for Selling to Biotech Companies

1.  Prospect into companies benefiting from the mRNA “Halo Effect” 

There is a ton of attention flowing into mRNA research these days thanks to the successes of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID vaccines.  There were 113 other companies that mentioned a mRNA focus in past 12 months, ranging from vaccines containing the nucleic acid, to oncology therapeutics binding and inhibiting the intracellular messenger.   There is even a company out there focused on targeting aberrant tumor-cell ribosomes and interfering with the translation of mRNA.   The mRNA world is benefiting from a Halo effect and it will be an important area for any cell and gene therapy contract manufacturers and all clinical providers to be following closely.  

2.  Mentally prepare your CFO for the return of historical selling expense ratios

We’re hearing a lot of built up travel plans among the Zymewire Business Development community.  Who knew you would miss the free coffee in the hotel lobby so much?  Check out the eBook for the results of the live survey we did during the webinar and it should help show your CFO that you’ll need some budget to get out there in front customers.  

3.  Investigate the 30 top-funded discovery-to-preclinical companies to anticipate trends

These companies represent the future of biotech. Check out the top 30 “discovery-to-preclinical companies” to understand who they are and what their investigational new drug (IND) submissions will be focused on so that you can either sell to them directly in 2021 – or shape your own business offerings around them.

4.  Think like an investor (better yet, think like a royalty investor) 

If you are looking for companies that will flourish and grow, follow the money. In the webinar we heard from an investor that specializes in proof-of-concept-stage companies.  He reviews the guidance from a later stage investor that specializes in royalty funding.  Oncology and orphan diseases are popular with royalty investors because of the less arduous reimbursement path among payors.  Consider focusing your prospecting around oncology and rare disease - even if you don’t typically take a therapeutic alignment to your outreach. 

5.  Reconsider targeting CNS companies 

We’re hearing from our community that CNS is getting hot again. A clinical site in the Zymewire BD community thinks that it might be related to the renewed focus on mental health in the pandemic.  Or maybe it is the appeal of being able to conquer such a devastating disease like Alzheihmer’s.  

 Like suggestion #4 - even if you don’t think in a therapeutic mindset, you may want to consider prospecting for biotech companies by CNS as one mechanism, because there’s a lot happening there in the discovery to pre-clinical stage. Are there any biologic drugs focused on central nervous system diseases through novel ways to cross the blood brain barrier?  Which small molecules are showing promise in early stage parkinson’s studies?  

6.  Look to Influenza as you plan for possible COVID evergreen scenarios

During the webinar we reviewed statements from the CEO of PPD about ‘Evergreen COVID work”.  What does Evergreen Covid mean?  This is the school of thought that believes Covid will be an annual set of work for those in the clinical development world.  Annual vaccines, new therapeutics to address new variants, global vaccine logistics and everything else that comes from a recurring vaccination regime or baseline annual incidence of hospitalizations due to COVID.  What would an Evergreen Covid scenario look like for your company?  Whether or not there is a COVID Cliff, it is a good idea to plan for possible scenarios.   Influenza provides a wealth of good examples of opportunities for those in the biopharma services sector.  



The pandemic has definitely changed the world, but the impact on your work doesn’t have to be a total mystery…or require a ton of manual work to understand. 

For our detailed analysis as well as the answers to all the topics and questions discussed in this blog post, check out the webinar or download the free eBook.

Watch the full webinar or download the eBook.



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