Deal-Making during COVID-19

By: Ayal Ronen, Vice President of Marketing, Sales and Business Development, The FreeMind Group

“Welcome back Mr. Ronen,” I’m greeted by a smiling flight attendant as I board my flight to yet another trans-Atlantic business trip. I promptly remove some essential belongings from my trusted travel bag, store them in the designated compartments, and drop myself into the comfy single seat. I sigh as an uncontrollable faint smile creeps in. All seasoned business travelers have a routine. We know when and how many hours to sleep on flights, what to eat in the lounge, and how to overcome jetlag. We have a morning routine, whether seeking adventurous running paths in unknown cities, finding the best coffee shop in the area, or just going for a short stroll before putting on the suit and ordering an Uber.

Those days seem like a distant past, as we are now some eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic and business travel is almost no longer. Undoubtedly, the lack of business travel has impacted the way we all conduct business. However, in addition to accumulating fewer frequent flyer miles and spending much (much, much) more time at home with the family, our team at the FreeMind Group wanted explore how our community has been faring during this time. We conducted a survey among our extensive network of biotech, medtech, pharma and service provider executives with the aim of understanding how COVID-19 has impacted deal-making. More simply put, how do you complete the job you are charged with – whether that’s seeking investments, investing, licensing, B2B sales, etc. while facing our challenging reality.

Survey Results

Around 80% of respondents were C-level executives, leading companies in the life sciences (biotech, medtech, pharma), while roughly twenty percent were service providers.

Has COVID-19 impacted deal making for your company?

Only 15% of respondents indicated that they have not been affected at all. Close to 35% were somewhat affected, and 40% have been greatly impacted by COVID. Sadly, for 10%, business has grounded to a screeching halt.

What platforms are used to connect?

When asked what platforms are used to connect and virtually meet with the life science community, virtual partnering events and LinkedIn dominated, however, only 40% thought either were actually effective, leaving sixty percent dissatisfied with the outcome. Introductions by mutual acquaintances is also widely used, and deemed very effective. Few utilize Google ads, LinkedIn ads or cold emailing, the latter being most ineffective.

Biggest challenges when trying to connect?

We also asked what the biggest challenges are when trying to connect with others. Roughly 65% percent of respondents stated that a sharp decline in responsiveness was hindering their ability to conduct business. Close to 25% percent stated that they felt there are fewer companies attending virtual events, and 20% felt that virtual meetings are less effective. Forty percent find it difficult to identify relevant companies or the correct individual with whom they would like to connect, and 20% think there are fewer companies emerging over the past months. However, only 10% thought companies are shutting their doors indefinitely.

Summary

It appears that virtual partnering events and LinkedIn are the main outlets for life science executives looking to continue making deals, and are also the most accessible. Yet, their effectiveness is cause for concern, as fewer companies choose to attend virtual events despite the lower cost. Furthermore, there is indication virtual meetings are less effective than a face-to-face. Couple that with diminishing responsiveness across platforms, we have reason to believe that despite some exciting IPOs in the first half of 2020, and a number of substantial funds being raised, a slowdown may be looming as deal flow wanes.

To learn more about the FreeMind Group, visit: www.freemindconsultants.com