Stem Cell Program Business Plan
Leonard Zon, M.D. and George Q. Daley, M.D., PhD launched the Stem Cell Program at Children’s Hospital in 2004. These two physician-scientists had served on multiple corporate and non-profit boards, and had experience as founding members of bio-tech start-ups.
They recognized the value of applying sound business principles and strategies to the new research program. In a start-up, the process of planning is very efficient and every detail is taken into consideration, and they wanted to echo that process with the new program. Drs. Zon and Daley presented this concept to the Stem Cell Task Force, an advisory group made up of science and business leaders with whom they meet regularly.
Apprised by a member of the Task Force of the Stem Cell initiative, John Fletcher, CEO of Fletcher Spaght, a top-level management consulting firm in Boston, offered his firm’s services pro bono to Drs. Zon and Daley. The focus was to develop a business plan centered on the program’s critical mission of developing cell-based therapies for patients. Zon and Daley developed a mission statement and outlined specific research objectives and short-and long-term goals. The plan included a realistic assessment of essential staffing and equipment, which led to an estimate of the funding that would be required to move stem cell research on blood diseases into the clinic in a finite number of years. This goal was similar to a start-up company’s business plan, but maintained academic values rather than a commercial profit motive.
The Business Plan outlines the four specific research tracks (Cultivation, Derivation, Model Development, and Pre-Clinical and Translational work) required to ensure that all technical avenues of research are explored, calculates the funding required for each area, and projects required staffing and equipment needed to achieve the goals. Because research and especially stem cell science is an incredibly fluid and growing area of research, the business plan is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate changes in science, technology, and research options without compromising the goal.
Once a year, the plan is reviewed in detail with the Stem Cell Task Force, progress is assessed, and essential changes to the plan are made based on changes in science.