Business-Related: Search and Evaluation

Identify gaps and areas for potential expansion in a company’s portfolio


In biopharmaceutical companies, the role of a business development (BD) team is to drive growth and expansion for an organization, product, and/or brand. The purpose of business development is to identify and execute opportunities that can drive revenue, profit, and/or brand growth. A company might identify gaps in their finances, market, pipeline, or stakeholders. Companies may fill gaps by collaborating to access new technologies or products or by acquiring companies. Search and evaluation (S&E) is a process in which the BD team identifies new technologies, products or companies, and determines which might best help the company meet their goals.

library_BRA productive S&E will produce a list ofassets. An asset could be a product, technology, stakeholder, or company, depending on the type of gap the BD team wants to fill.

Keep in mind that the new opportunity needs to fit in the context of the company portfolio and history. Consider a company’s context when performing an S&E. Consider scope (geographic, development and marketing capacity) and history (growth and differentiation). A search will also turn up financial information. For example, if the BD team finds a start-up from which the company might license a technology or acquire, they might want to learn about the company’s series funding. The goal is to gain knowledge of the asset to uncover a potential partner’s interest or need.

For individuals new to business-related science fields: Business development is a field that scientists may transition into after working in other business-related jobs, such as consulting or marketing. This job simulation will be a challenge if you are completely new to business concepts, but give it a try to see if your skills and interests might align. If the job simulation piques your interest, we encourage you to conduct an informational interview to learn how you could pursue this as a career path in the future.

The Process

Anatomy of a Company’s Portfolio

A company’s portfolio includes products in their pipeline and partners. Gaps can be any opportunity to grow or expand the business and may include gaps in their finances, market, pipeline or stakeholders. The mission and vision on a company’s website will be information used to identify what the company value proposition is and where they want to stand out in the market.

Search & Evaluation Process
  1. Analyze a company’s portfolio (gap analysis)
  2. Perform due diligence (assess the market)
  3. Search to answer the “where to, how to, and who” can fill the gap
  4. Evaluation. Score the findings. Create models for how it will fill the company’s gap
  5. Create a term sheet (may include valuation and finance)
  6. Negotiation

The Exercise

Perform a search to determine how a company drives growth or expansion. You will find information about the company’s mission, values, and portfolio on their webpage. The company we chose for this exercise is Celldex Therapeutics. If you are feeling adventurous, select any biopharma company. Companies with multiple programs may be a good place to start. Choose a program and find the gap.

For this exercise, you are a scientist on the BD team and you are researching the technologies that could fill a gap in your company.

Task 1: Identify the gap

Choose one candidate and identify a gap. You might explore ways to expand the candidate in different indications, populations, or markets.

For Celldex Therapeutics, one gap might be the indications the antibodies they are making could be targeted against. For example, Celldex has a license agreement with Southampton to develop human antibodies towards CD27, “a potentially significant target for immunotherapy of various cancers.”

If you are unfamiliar with business terms, watch this brief video explanation of how to identify gaps.

Task 2: Address the gap

Perform a search for ways to fill the gap based on the gap you identified. Ways to fill the gap can be a deal, a partnership, a technology, or a product. Determine criteria for a search that can be used later to evaluate assets you find. Criteria may include:

  • indication of products
  • size of companies
  • stage of assets
  • type of molecule
  • route of administration
  • patient populations
  • competition
  • intellectual property
  • overall fit of potential partner

We suggest resources to find information below.

Task 3: Create an Excel sheet for one of the search criteria

Record information from your search criteria. In a BD team the criteria spreadsheet would be scored according to the company’s priorities and goals, and used to evaluate the opportunities for growth.

The Deliverable


The standard deliverable for an S&E project is a spreadsheet. A BD professional may also be asked to create a PowerPoint presentation. The project usually starts with a set of criteria and a scoring system.

The deliverable should allow a BD team or senior management team to clearly see the top 10 or more targets, and then track deals and communications over time.

Deliverable 1


Click to enlarge

Deliverable 2


Click to enlarge Gaps Table part 1 and part 2


General resources to help you get started:

Resources for this sim:

Read Newson websites such as FiercePharma or FierceBiotech for information such as market trends and news on deals, and clinical trials.


Skills used to perform this task:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Synthesizing large amount of information quickly

Skills used in the BD field:

  • Time and project management
  • People skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Market research and market strategy

To view detailed lists of skills in job descriptions for business careers, please see workforce data generated by Boston University’s BEST program.

You are viewing a job simulation. To get started, set up SMART Goals to perform this simulation in a reasonable timeline. If you have completed the task, fill out the Self-Reflection Sheet.

Simulation author: Thi Nguyen, PhD

Simulation vetted by professionals from a Bay Area startup and a healthcare company