Slone Partners’ quarterly Leadership Series continues with an exclusive interview with Craig Overpeck, CEO of Science and Medicine Group, the leading life sciences market research company in America. Mr. Overpeck’s firm, through scientific community intelligence networks and diverse product offerings allowing them to serve multiple stakeholders, has tripled in size in recent years through organic growth and M&A activity. This activity puts Science and Medicine Group on the unique forefront of offering strategic program viability, product pricing and product positioning support to Fortune 500 companies. Slone Partners is delighted to present our exclusive interview with Craig Overpeck.

Slone Partners: Science and Medicine Group is at the intersection of science, technology, innovation, and drug discovery. Why do so many enterprise companies rely upon your advice for market research, pricing, product positioning and making better decisions? What do you know that Fortune 500 companies don’t?  

Mr. Overpeck: Most large companies are undergoing culture changes to be more data-driven organizations for all decision making. Some of the most costly decisions can be acquiring the wrong company or launching the wrong product to the wrong buyer with the wrong messaging and price.

We enable companies that use our “what and why” services to make the right corporate and product decisions. Our services complement those Fortune 500 executives, product managers, and marketers who know a data-driven approach to management reduces risk, increases confidence in product launches, and leads to higher sales.

We also have tools that can help start-ups be data-driven even while on a small budget. Our goal is to help every life science, analytical instrument, diagnostics, and imaging company to get their life-changing products to the right scientists and clinicians to improve lives.

Slone Partners: With patients becoming increasingly empowered through access to digital health records, wearables, and burgeoning healthcare services offered at neighborhood pharmacies, life sciences and precision medicine companies are increasingly finding the need to make themselves more consumer-facing. It’s a new role for companies that were traditionally B2B. How are they adapting and how do you help them?  

Mr. Overpeck: If you ask life science tools and technology manufacturers what they do, you are still likely to hear about what they make – a kit, an assay, an instrument – but when you follow the sample to the insight, you find why it matters. I think many of these companies always had an eye on the consumer, but it is now finding its way into mission statements and marketing materials.

Companies that relate the product to the outcome will be more successful in the marketplace because it describes the why, not the what. GE and Hologic are terrific storytellers with their women’s health instruments, for example. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the science that we forget the true outcome – changing lives.

For me personally, Agilent was one of those instrument manufacturers that made a difference. When we adopted our daughter, it was an Agilent platform (180K CGH+SNP Array) that told us she had an ultra-rare genetic disease called Prader-Willi Syndrome. Agilent was a precision diagnostic life-changer for our family, and we should want to bring that level of diagnostic and care to the rest of the world.

Slone Partners: Your external advisory services largely rely upon the internal insights of tens of thousands of participating scientists. How do you maintain so many relationships from so many busy people and keep them participating? 

Mr. Overpeck: Our communities, including the Science Advisory Board, LabPulse for Diagnostics, and AuntMinnie for Imaging, are receiving value in-between the time those scientists and clinicians are doing surveys. Our 10-person San Francisco-based editorial team generates timely information and we send newsletters to those advisors.

This past year, we expanded our content offering covering the clinical diagnostics industry in-depth and also a series for scientists in the bioprocessing space. All of our sites have seen growth over the last year in membership, and when we ask the audience to help with market research, we get a much higher response rate than if we just maintained a phone book, database, or list. Most of our audience members are curious and want to contribute to the success of a new product with their opinion.

Slone Partners: You’ve grown the Science and Medicine Group through numerous acquisitions. What’s the state of M&A in life sciences for the near future? Is it easier to “buy it” or “build it”? 

Mr. Overpeck: We have been lucky enough to find key assets in the life science, instrumentation, diagnostic, and imaging markets to merge them together. Clients want a “one stop shop” with a company that can understand their market and address their needs for research, reports, and data. There are certainly companies available – many at high valuations, based upon the amount of public and private equity participating in our industry. Also the industry, and the providers that support the industry, are quite fragmented, which makes the space ripe for consolidation.

We have been focused on creating a seamless, consolidated portfolio of solutions (quantitative, qualitative, reports, data), and that means we have also had to invent some products like our DIY research product called RateMyProduct™. Buy versus build are just different, and we always need to prove our value in an industry that treasures validation and transparency.

Slone Partners: What makes you personally happy?

Dr. OverpeckSome of the best times I have had are walking the floor of Pittcon with my youngest son and talking about chromatography, how vacuums work, and playing with science in the Merck Millipore research box. It reminds me that this industry is built on the shoulders of giants who also were excited by discovery and have advanced us to where we are today.