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Amgen Business Development

Amgen is committed to partnering with innovators in the fight against serious illness. Amgen’s business development team brings together deep scientific, financial, deal, partnership, and integration expertise—along with an ability to bring the right people inside Amgen to the right conversations. Business Development plays a critical role in the execution of Amgen’s growth strategy. From the early-stage innovations we fund through Amgen Ventures to the integration and alliance management work we engage in once an agreement is reached, Amgen Business Development is organized to effectively manage the process of working with partners every step of the way.

Amgen Ventures

Amgen Ventures is dedicated to providing innovative biotechnology companies with resources to develop pioneering discoveries focused on human therapeutics.

For more than a decade, Amgen Ventures has invested in more than 30 emerging biotechnology companies to advance promising medicines and technologies that could ultimately make a difference for patients suffering from serious illnesses. Investments are made in areas of strategic interest and with the intent of earning a financial return. We invest in North America, United Kingdom and Europe.

External R&D – Product

The External R&D Product group is responsible for the sourcing of external innovation for potential in-licensing, M&A, or partnership collaborations. This team is organized by therapeutic areas of interest with broad geographic distribution into key regions.

External R&D – Technology

The External R&D Technology group focuses on bringing platform technologies for drug discovery and development, manufacturing and drug delivery, and companion diagnostics into the company from a variety of sources ranging from industry to research institutions.

Transactions and Analysis

The Transactions and Analysis group work together to develop financial terms based on strategic fit, key value drivers and business needs. The transactions team leads negotiations with prospective partners to execute new business opportunities for Amgen.

Alliance Management

Alliance Management is responsible for the successful execution of partnerships post-deal signing, fostering collaborative working relationships with partners as the custodian of the overall health of the partnership and ensuring alliances deliver on their goals to maximize value capture.

Integration

The Integration team is responsible for facilitating the successful transition of a company into Amgen. Our integration capability is flexible and allows us to tailor our integration approach to best achieve the deal value drivers and address the specific attributes of each acquisition.

Outbound

The Outbound group structures out-licenses, collaborative licenses and spinouts to support the development of Amgen programs.

A Venture Capital Success Story

Founded in 1980 by a small group of enterprising venture capitalists and scientists who saw the promise of emerging research in genetics, Amgen has grown to be one of the world’s largest independent biotechnology companies with a presence in more than 75 countries.

At Amgen, Business Development remains a critical capability. We recognize that one of the most important drivers of success is our balanced approach of capturing internal and external innovation. We have invested in 30 early-stage biotechnology companies in the last decade. These investments, along with the work we have done at Amgen, have led to significant advances in the treatment of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease and other serious illnesses. Our success continues to come from cultivating home-grown innovation inside the walls of Amgen while also capturing external innovation and forging valuable partnerships that dramatically enhance how we deliver for patients.

  • Archival photo of Thousand Oaks, California, taken years before Amgen's establishment (photo used courtesy of Ed Lawrence).
  • Amgen's early venture capital founders Bill Bowes (from left) and Sam Wohlstadter speaking with George Rathmann, Amgen's first CEO.
  • Building 1, where Amgen was founded, still stands today as a reminder of the company's entrepreneurial origins.
  • Amgen's partnership with Kirin Brewery in 1984 was one the company's first partnerships and remains the longest lasting.
  • With the 2002 acquisition of Immunex, Amgen had an exciting new opportunity to serve patients with Enbrel® (etanercept).
  • In 2011, Amgen acquired BioVex Group, Inc., an enterprising immuno-oncology startup; the acquisition included a novel investigational medicine engineered from a modified virus.
  • In 2012, Amgen acquired Micromet, an immuno-oncology innovator of the BiTE® antibody construct.
  • In 2012, Amgen acquired Kai Pharmaceuticals, including an investigational medicine for the treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism in patients with chronic kidney disease on dialysis.
  • In 2013, Amgen acquired deCODE, a global leader in human genetics, enhancing Amgen's ability to identify and validate drug targets using human genetics.
  • In 2013, Amgen acquired Onyx Pharmaceuticals, adding to a growing portfolio of oncology medicines with Kyprolis® (carfilzomib) and NEXAVAR® (sorafenib).

Interview With David Piacquad, SVP, Business Development

What does business development mean at Amgen?

Business Development means different things in different industries—and at different companies. At Amgen, business development focuses on bringing external innovation into the corporation. We do this in a number of ways, especially through acquisitions and licensing agreements that include investigational medicines in specific therapeutic areas as well as discovery research capabilities and delivery system technologies. Amgen Business Development also operates Amgen Ventures, a fund focused on early-stage innovation, and out-licensing efforts.  

How seriously does Amgen take innovations not created inside the company?

We really believe that to be successful going forward you have to find the best science, the best innovation, wherever it may reside. If you look at our late-stage pipeline today, it’s nicely balanced. Roughly half the molecules have come from outside through acquisitions and licensing deals, and half have come from internal research at Amgen. This should say something about how we source innovation at Amgen—and the importance we place on building relationships outside our own walls.

Can you explain the recent changes to Amgen Business Development?

For many years, Amgen had two business development groups—one in finance and one in R&D. What we heard as we talked to people on the outside is that this created some confusion. So in 2014, we combined the two organizations. We’re now able to speak with one unified voice to potential partners. Our objective is for people to find Amgen a much easier organization to work with than they have in the past. It has been very exciting to re-introduce ourselves to potential partners and meet some exciting new startups.

When it comes to global reach, what does Amgen have to offer a small biopharma?

One of the great challenges and opportunities for an emerging biotech company is how you get out of what I like to call "the biotech trap." The biotech trap is that young biotech companies have a tendency to cut deals to out-license their international rights. It’s understandable as it’s a way to finance a corporation. And yet, it leads you into a trap. The trap is that when you have a big new product ready to launch, you can’t take it internationally because you never built the infrastructure. And when you have opportunity outside the US, you can’t make a pitch for it because you don’t have the capabilities embedded. To some extent, this was a challenge for Amgen early on.

Around 2010, however, we decided to get out of this trap by partnering internationally, ahead of our maturing pipeline, to really start building aggressively, about five years in advance of the launch of products. We didn’t just think about commercial capabilities but also R&D and manufacturing as well because, as those who have operated internationally know, you can’t operate effectively unless you do this. You have to have a real presence on the ground, meaning that you’re doing clinical trials in R&D and doing manufacturing regionally.

So we’ve worked very hard to get out of this trap. This includes doing an acquisition in Brazil, buying back rights to our distributor in Brazil, buying a company in Turkey that gave us access to the Middle East (an attractive market), buying back one of our legacy products in 100 markets, and doing two joint ventures—one in Japan and one in China—that will eventually allow us to step into two up-and-running businesses. We have pulled a number of different levers to allow us to expand globally, and our feeling is that we’ve got an exciting future. So we’ve really created a global launch pad for our upcoming products—for those that come from inside Amgen and for those that will come from future partnerships.

David A. Piacquad—SVP, Business Development

David A. Piacquad has been in the biopharmaceuticals business for more than 30 years. Piacquad joined Amgen in 2010 and was named senior vice president, Business Development, in March 2014. He is responsible for business development across Amgen and leads a new organization that combines the previously separate Corporate Development and External Research & Development groups. Prior to this role, Piacquad served as vice president, Strategy & Corporate Development, responsible for mergers and acquisitions, inbound and outbound Licensing, Amgen Ventures and Corporate Alliance Management.

Prior to Amgen, Piacquad was senior vice president, Business Development & Licensing at Schering-Plough Corporation. Before joining Schering-Plough, Piacquad spent more than 20 years at Johnson & Johnson, where he held a series of leadership roles in finance and business development.

Piacquad holds a BA degree from Colgate University and an MBA from the Wharton School.

Amgen Ventures Investments

In 2004, Amgen announced the formation of Amgen Ventures, a corporate venture capital fund dedicated to providing emerging biotechnology companies with resources to develop pioneering discoveries focused on human therapeutics. Since then we have made direct investments into promising biotech companies, with a selection of a few shown below. Amgen has also become a limited partner in other life science–focused venture funds that are committed to building and growing innovative companies.

Limited Partnership Investments

  • Atlas Venture
  • Decheng Capital
  • OrbiMed
  • venBio