How was the year 2020 for Julius Clinical?
Obviously a very non standard year! Our flexibility was really tested, but I have to say I have been extremely impressed by the response of our employees.
We did switch more or less from one day to the next to a full remote working environment. This happened without any hiccup or other negative impact on the business.
Also our clients were very understanding and collaborative in dealing with the challenges the pandemic caused. Together with our clients we have worked hard to minimise delays on their studies.
To what extend was the business impacted by the pandemic?
Businesswise, we did see an impact on the number of client requests for new business, particularly in the second quarter, however also supported by the general investment in biotech there was a rapid and strong rebound in the second half of the year.
Overall we have been very pleased with the interest from large pharma and biotech in our specialised offering, and our numbers support this.
We have seen new project awards at a rate of over 2 times our revenue in 2020 and our revenue did grow by 30% despite the impact of the pandemic.
Also the outlook for this year is really good with similar growth forecasted.
How do you explain this strong performance?
The CRO landscape is large and diversified. Yes there has been and still is significant consolidation by the larger players. However there is also clear demand for another type of service provider.
In our case more specialised and with access to key academic leaders, who are recognised experts in their field. With our academic experts we have a unique offering in several CNS indications such as ALS and AD, in Nash and other Cardio / renal areas and in several Infectious disease areas like RSV and Vaccines, an area with a lot of immediate opportunities due to Covid. The mix of scientific advice, full service operational capabilities and access to relevant networks and data sources is what makes our offering highly relevant for those companies who are active in our areas of operation.
How do you see the future for Julius Clinical?
Our growth comes first and foremost from our access to clients in our areas we work in, in many cases we know these clients really well and have been involved from the early stages in their product development.
Secondly, we have been gradually increasing our areas of expertise, by engaging with leading KOLs in certain areas. For example we are working with clients in the hearing loss area, together with Prof. Anne Schilder.
This area is a relatively new domain for innovative medicines and as a result we work very closely and collaboratively with clients here to help find the most feasible way to progress their pipeline.
Another area where we have expanded into is Oncology, where specific expertise is also highly relevant.
How do you see the role of innovation in clinical development.
It is good to see that the focus on innovation is higher now compared with 10 or 20 years ago. For some it may be hard to believe, but the adaptation of EDC within the industry was slow as were innovations like risk based monitoring.
Now the impact of advances in information technology combined with the need to do things differently due to the pandemic has led to a much higher focus on innovation, in particular related to remote / decentralised trials.
We are, due to our close collaboration with academia, embracing ways to improve clinical development and as such also collaborate in several IMI funded initiatives focused on innovation of clinical trials. Our clients do benefit from this unique expertise.
Any final remarks from your side?
Well perhaps that I do wish for everyone that we can end the Covid pandemic as soon as possible, ideally sometime this year. I believe that the crucial contribution of our industry to obtaining safe and effective treatments has been properly demonstrated and I would also like to acknowledge the significant contribution the regulatory authorities have had to approve the vaccines currently available in an accelerated manner. I hope this leads to greater collaboration between regulators and the industry also where innovation can be applied in areas such as real world data and the way we conduct our trials.
Specifically in the EU, the current stance on adopting e-consent and remote data verification do need to be updated to avoid us lagging behind other key economic areas.