In late 2019 Pinsent Masons’ commissioned a thought leadership programme on incentivising innovation in the life sciences industry. Its timing has seen the firm’s Life Science practice at the heart of the industry’s response to COVID, leading the discussion on the future of collaboration, regulation and innovation.
Its impact on internal audiences, who have largely been working from home, has been even greater, says Sasha Rodrigues, Business Development Manager for the Life Sciences practice at Pinsent Masons.
Thought leadership has long sat at the heart of Pinsent Masons’ marketing and business development activity. When after a four year stretch with the firm’s Corporate practice, Sasha joined the firm’s Life Science team, a strong thought leadership programme to was seen as a priority to align business development activity with strategy.
“The team has a stellar reputation acting for disruptive pharma,” says Sasha. “These are companies characterised by innovation, challenging the status quo in the sector.
“We wanted to explore how the law, technology, and the regulatory framework could be deployed and reshaped to help incentivise innovation the sector and patients demand, and how we can support those companies on their journey.”
The campaign had its genesis in late 2019 before COVID had fully revealed its potency and started in early 2020 with an ‘ideas lab’ held by Meridian West and Coast Communications.
“The ideas lab was something new to Pinsent Masons and a huge success,” says Sasha. “It tackled head-on the challenge of engaging internal audiences from the outset.
“Whilst practice or sector leads may embrace thought leadership, engaging wider internal audiences across the globe can be a real challenge. The ideas lab involved country, sector and practice leads giving the campaign structure, direction and a clear measure of outcomes.”
The ideas lab concept, developed by Meridian West and Coast Communications, is a structured one-hour workshop that guides a firm towards thought leadership campaign themes and outputs whilst remained focused on external and internal audiences.
“It tested our partners and got them thinking,” explains Sasha, “and was critical in shaping the campaign and its delivery. And that proved immensely valuable when the realities of COVID began to be felt.”
Part if that testing was a series of workshops with groups of partners across Europe focused on the drivers of innovation including the intellectual property regime, the regulatory landscape and pricing.
“Partners were able to discuss in detail what was important to them and their service lines, and what they wanted to get out of the thought leadership campaign,” explains Sasha. “It was clear that the initial campaign theme – incentivising innovation in life sciences – has many dimensions and that one white paper would not really work.
“We are lucky enough to have a team of respected journalists working at Pinsent Masons – our Out Law team – already creating content for a variety of channels. It was agreed that a content series supported by online events would be the best way to tackle the wealth of knowledge our own lawyers have and the insights gained from deep dive interviews.”
Meridian West and Coast Communications has over a six-month period lead a series of internal workshops, deep dive client interviews, and pulse surveys facilitating a content programme that has embraced the rapidly changing COVID landscape and the issues that are at the heart of the life sciences community. It is a campaign that will run well into 2021.
“I am convinced that the success of this campaign rests in part to the high levels of internal engagement designed into the campaign structure,” says Sasha. “Our partners have such a wide and deep knowledge of their subject areas and were keen to share their insights. We were able to create a wealth of content from our internal audiences that complemented what clients were telling us.
“More importantly, it gave partners the confidence needed to then go out and speak to clients when face-to-face meetings were not possible.”
Pinsent Masons’ incentivising innovation in life sciences campaign continues to create insightful content.
“Life sciences businesses have never been busier or under greater pressure that over the past eight months,” says Sasha. “But they recognise the important issues we were raising in our campaign – the need, for example, of greater collaboration to tackle global challenges – and are more than happy to give their time to participate. And that has been one key measure of its success.
“Another has been the ability of our lawyers to extend conversations with clients beyond the often-narrow window of the law. This campaign has positioned the practice as commercially aware business advisers.
“It has achieved everything we had hoped for – increased profile and solid business development opportunities – and will, in 2021, be used by our public policy team to engage with contacts within regulators and government across Europe to help provide an overview of what the industry deems essential in incentivising innovation.”