In the past decade a small handful of “digital biotech” companies have drawn on ideas, technology, and talent from the software industry to build valuable data platforms for accelerating drug development. While most biotech founders say they want data and ML to be a pillar of their strategy, many have no software experience and therefore struggle to build a digital-first company.
In my career working in several early-stage digital biotechs, I’ve seen repeating patterns arise, and have been able to see how early decisions later shape the trajectory of the company. Each company is unique but there are some foundations and rules of thumb for digital biotech platforms that can be generally applied.
My goal is to provide a few concrete steps to follow, but also to highlight important cultural, technical, and organizational decisions that should be considered very early in the life of any digital biotech company. I’ll also propose novel ideas that I think could be successful.
I hope this can be helpful to others in the industry starting their own digital biotech companies. The more we can infuse software and data practices into drug discovery, the sooner we can solve the problems of poor success rate and reproducibility and the better we’ll be at curing disease.