Bioprocess transformation: It’s not just about the tech, says expert

To implement transformation successfully in your company, you must start with the person and not with the technology, an expert from GSK says.

As the pharma space evolves rapidly, new modalities come online and the industry collectively pushes for faster times to market with lower costs. It is unsurprising that biotechs must semi-regularly implement and adapt new technologies.

Speaking at BPI Europe 2023, Amsterdam, Fausto Artico, global R&D tech head of innovation and data science at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), told delegates a common mistake made when trying to implement transformation in the form of new technology is “many people don’t take into consideration behavior dynamics in the pharma space.

Fausto Artico at BPI Europe 2023, Amsterdam. Image c/o Millie Nelson

“It is incredibly important to be able to understand them. If you can engineer an environment for change, then this can help” the adoption of transformation and technology at your company.

Fear of change

Artico placed significant emphasis on fear and how this “is the main reason transformation does not happen.”

People often “do not say the real reason they do not want to adapt to new technology, so it does not always matter about the logic. The individual might be compliant, but they may not be passionate about the transformation and therefore, they will [carry this out] without the right amount of enthusiasm due to fear.”

To tackle this issue, Artico said you must “create the right environment and situation to move people away from fear and into a more positive state.” A crucial aspect of forming a positive environment starts with incentives.

“You need to create a set of incentives for them (the employees) and not just for the company or the customers. [Additionally], the incentives do not always have to be about money.”

Instead, Fausto told the audience you need to provide and introduce “psychological safety” instead of just “physical safety” with the technology. In doing so, you can “generate value through fulfilment” and thus the adoption of transformation becomes something that sticks as you have “taken into consideration the aspect of fear.”

While Artico admitted his statement sounds “counterintuitive” with regard to driving costs down, he pushed forward the idea that “we are all in the business of changing and transforming belief. If you change the opinion of people, everything else will follow.”

He concluded: “Transformation starts inside and has nothing to do with technology. You need to show there are benefits, but also fulfilment and safety for the individual. If you are in a happier state, you may then make choices in a quicker way.”