Session 302
The Evolution Highs and Lows of a Biotech & Pharma Alliance

Alliance managers from Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and F-star Therapeutics, Cambridge, UK and US will share their experiences of a long-standing alliance between biotech and pharma in the field of immuno-oncology. The alliance started 10 years ago with a small research collaboration around the platform developed by F-star that evolved into delivery of a clinical project.

The trust built through strong collaboration and best practices in alliance management has contributed significantly to the success of this long-standing collaboration. Based on reliable delivery of targets and transparent communication, the team was equipped to fulfill the differing strategic goals of both parties. The strong relationship facilitated the navigation of multiple challenges such as success within a competitive field and differing dynamics in a biotech and big pharma with respect to governance structures. Specifically, managing expectations in regard to decision making through transparent communication of processes.

The key success factors for establishing such a longstanding collaboration are high profile research goals and enthusiastic teams who collaborate closely and apply best practices in alliance management such as:


Sarah Batey, PhD
VP, Project and Portfolio Management
F-star Therapeutics

Sarah is Vice President, Project and Portfolio management at F-star Therapeutics, a clinical stage biotechnology company developing novel therapeutics to address the needs of late stage cancer patients. Part of Dr. Batey's role is the Alliance management of F-star's key collaborations to enable success by ensuring that all aspects on the business support the needs of F-star and its partners.

Throughout her career Sarah has been dedicated to maximising success in delivering transformational cancer therapeutics to patients with limited treatment options. Her career started in research science with the delivery of numerous drug development projects as demonstrated through multiple publications and patents. From here Sarah recognised the importance of alliances to maximise value. As well recognised within the field, this massive undertaking is most effective when companies and other entities work together to pool their knowledge and resources.

Dr. Margarita Wucherer-Plietker, CA-AM
Director, Alliance Management
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Margarita started her career in medicinal chemistry at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in 2006 where she was leading a laboratory supporting projects in the field of oncology and immunology. In 2013, she joined the OLED division in Performance Materials at Merck KGaA in a managerial role leading a group of scientists developing high-tech OLED materials for display applications. Here she engaged in collaborations especially with Asian companies. In 2018, Margarita joined Global Business Development and Alliance Management and is engaged in research and development alliances with academic institutes and partners from Biotechs. Margarita studied chemistry at the Technical University of Dresden, Stanford University and Boston College. She received her Ph.D in natural product synthesis from the Max-Planck-Institute for Coal Research. Prior to joining Merck KGaA, Margarita did a postdoc at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California conducting bioorganic research under professor Chi-Huey Wong.