We are excited to announce that Kim Staats has joined the AxelaRx advisor team. Kim is a passionate scientist-turned-biotech-consultant with a heart for bringing technologies to patients quickly. She has extensive experience in high-impact academic research, mainly in neurodegeneration and rare diseases, at universities in Europe and in the United States. During her career Kim spearheaded many interdisciplinary collaborations, and has an impressive scientific publication record.

Besides her academic achievements, Kim is dedicated to contribute to impactful change for patients in the commercial, patient advocacy, and regulatory space. She has worked with numerous start-ups and biotech companies at different stages of maturity. Her expertise includes identifying (non-dilutive) funding opportunities, (pre-) clinical program design, and business development.

Currently Kim is also a communication coach. She focuses on structure and delivery in presentations and correspondence both in science and in business. For you to get to know her view on the Life Sciences and Health space we asked her a couple of questions.

Why did you decide to join AxelaRx?

There is a real urgency to deliver impactful therapeutic strategies to patients. Therefore, there is a great need to de-risk and fund innovative therapeutic strategies promptly. In addition, these innovative ideas are not limited to a certain geographical location. That is why I strongly support the mission of AxelaRx to accelerate the development of such innovative therapeutic strategies with a global perspective. I look forward to assist in this process as an AxelaRx Advisor.

What excites you most about the Life Sciences and Health industry?

I am particularly enthusiastic for the increasing role of patient advocacy in discussions with regulatory bodies. This way it is ensured that therapeutic strategies are developed to contribute to meaningful improvements for patients. The discussions between patients or patient advocacy organizations and regulatory bodies can affect the outcomes measured in clinical trials needed for market approval, and thereby determine how novel therapeutic strategies are designed. That being said, the effect that the patient voice has is different across regulatory bodies and geographical locations.

What is key for any starting biotech venture?

The importance of communication can never be overstated. Communication permeates into everything a biotech needs to succeed. This includes communication strategies with external parties (e.g., funding agencies, investors, partners, etc.) and with internal parties when hiring, and building and strengthening a team. These communication strategies differ depending on geographical locations and culture. Luckily, communication strategies can be taught.

Further, I would like to add that it is key to recognize one’s own weaknesses, and have the confidence to hire someone or a team who is an expert in that area instead. Organizations that try to be an expert in everything will likely find themselves meeting milestones slower than intended. In the end, patients are in need of novel therapies and there is no time to waste.

What is your advice to European companies wanting to make the move to the United States?

Obviously the culture in the United States is different than in Europe. This can be found in many different aspects of both daily life and business dealings. As ‘know your audience’ is key for successful communication in any context, it is especially true when exploring a new market. Therefore, I highly recommended obtaining insights on how to conduct business in American culture prior to initiating professional relationships overseas. AxelaRx is a great place to start to gain this cultural understanding. Although learning to communicate in the culture is key to succeed in the United States there are also other factors that contribute to success. Learning another culture and mindset is valuable. In the case of the United States, I additionally find that the ‘can-do’, ‘yes-and’, and ‘lean-in’ mentality can also be extremely uplifting, empowering, and a driving force for action in a company.

How can European companies overcome the cultural differences in the United States?

I believe that it is important to first recognize that there are large cultural differences. Too often these are overlooked. In general, each person will bring their own culture to the table. Therefore, focusing and building report on the similarities at hand (e.g. the meeting’s or the company’s goal) can be productive, while being aware that jokes, sarcasm, and tone are extremely culture-sensitive.

Are there any other things you would like to add?

I am excited to accelerate therapeutic strategies towards patients promptly with the talented team at AxelaRx.

Kim Staats and other AxelaRx advisors provide practical support to AxelaRx members in their journey to the United States. Want to learn more about how they can help you succeed overseas? Contact info@axelarx.com.