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Accelerating patient impact from innovation

Biotechnology funding, deals, and IPOs reached the highest levels worldwide in 2020, with venture-capitalist (VC) funding for biotech companies up more than 80 percent year-over-year, and IPO values increasing by more than 180 percent. The next waves of science and innovation are on the horizon, and the bio-revolution is well underway.

However, value creation is not guaranteed. Increasing complexity—scientific, supply chain, access, etc.—raises the bar for high-quality talent and successful execution. For example, less than 50 percent of biotech launches meet expected forecasts, and independent biotech companies launching by themselves the first time are typically less successful than experienced launchers.

McKinsey helps biotech companies across the entire value chain, from early-stage companies getting initial funding to established companies launching into international markets. We also drive transformations by bringing together the capabilities needed to help organizations grow and thrive in the digital age.


global experts

in pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical-products



with advanced degrees across engineering, health, life sciences, and medicine



over the past three years across clinical trials, commercial launches, as well as oncology, cell, and gene therapy

What we do

Developing equity stories and helping prepare financing rounds and IPOs
Help biotech companies present equity stories—such as business models, competitive advantages, strategy, and market dynamics—in a compelling way that maximizes valuation in financing rounds and at IPO

Investing our people to build the next generation of innovators
Align with clients to ensure there are shared objectives and key performance indicators. We invest our human capital—our capabilities, databases, people, and tools—in promising biotech companies to help them scale and achieve high ambitions, using our proven Leap by McKinsey methodology. We invest in and innovate new delivery models that allow us to share risks and upsides, which is different from our more traditional project-based work

Corporate strategy and capital market
Develop holistic corporate strategy to steer mid- to long-term direction, understand key value drivers from the investor’s view, and articulate compelling stories

Portfolio and platform strategy and asset optimization
Maximize R&D platforms and portfolio value with unrivaled expertise in portfolio strategy, clinical development strategy, study design optimization, and clinical-operations acceleration

Launch and go-to-market
Assess launch readiness and design differentiated go-to-market models, such as access, commercial, and medical while developing commercial organizations and building roadmaps with clear value propositions in market and competition

Build the manufacturing plant of the future, integrate digital and analytics to achieve world-class productivity and quality

Strategic partnerships
Support strategic partnerships by evaluating portfolio, value-chain strength, geographic trends, and strategic fit that inform partnering options and craft value-proposition stories

Future-proof organization
Develop the organization of the future by considering rapidly evolving and growing organizational changes in external competition and commercial environments

International expansion
Define the launch model for international markets based on an evaluation of the addressable patient population by market, and by assessing commercial and organization requirements

A groundbreaking initiative to advance and deploy state-of-the-art, AI-constructed drug discovery and development as part of outcome-based partnerships with our biopharmaceutical clients. Eureka brings the best of tools and talent from QuantumBlack, AI by McKinsey, with the distinctive data from our center of excellence in life-sciences data, where we have a number of strategic partnerships across geographies and therapeutic areas.

Examples of our work

Platform strategy for an early-stage biotech

An early-stage biotech was looking to develop a therapeutic strategy and clinical development plan for its proprietary research and development platform. We supported the organization by analysing the value at stake for indications in three therapeutic areas, assessed the trade-off between technical feasibility and scientific fitness, and evaluated its competitive landscape and business-model options. As a result, the organization defined a clinical development strategy and business model to operationalize across three therapeutic areas with the most opportunity.

IPO equity story

An early-stage oncology focused biotech was planning for public listing and we supported them in crafting the IPO equity story. We synthesized key value drivers by assessing portfolio and company capabilities against peer company sets, articulated the portfolio narrative by considering scientific differentiations, competitive positioning, and commercial value, and cocreated the investment-equity story with the biotech executives tailored toward the target investors.

Franchise strategy for a cross-border biotech

A cross-border biotech with a broad portfolio of transformative innovations to launch in an Asian market wanted to define a franchise strategy to guide future portfolios and commercial-operation building. We supported the company by benchmarking against successful franchises in respective therapeutic areas to extrapolate key success factors and synthesized forward-looking requirements on the franchise build to formulate the franchise strategy anchoring on company competitive strength. We also defined a roadmap to execute the key franchise strategy recommendations to position the biotech as a future leader by 2030.

Value-creation partnership

A clinical-stage biotech with a unique platform and a lead asset in immunology aspired to find a codevelopment partner to accelerate and broaden the pipeline. We supported the company over more than a year in a partnership. We cocreated the equity story for a larger funding round, refined the clinical-trial design of the lead asset, outlined the go-to-market model, detailed the value proposition, and supported partnering negotiations, which resulted in the biotech reaching a prosperous, successful deal conclusion.

Knowledge partnerships

McKinsey is a knowledge partner for key industry conferences, including BioCentury in China and BioEquity Europe, HIMSS, and LSX. We convene experts across the world to share the latest thinking and research at hosted events, including our annual Early Stage Investor Conference, quarterly healthtech CEO and founder sessions, and regular biotech CEO and founder events.

We collaborate annually with BioCentury and the BayHelix Group to orchestrate the China Healthcare Summit, the “bridge to innovation,” as their insights partner. The conference is a combination of strategic panels and one-on-one meetings where we present our views on the evolution of the biopharma and medtech industries in China. Every conference publishes a McKinsey-authored report report on the latest in Chinese biotech and medtech ecosystems. We are also a knowledge partner with BioCentury’s European event, BioEquity.

Featured Insights


From bench to bedside: Transforming R&D labs through automation

– Laboratory technology has been a steady runner in the world of pharmaceuticals, rather than a racing star—until now. A series of innovations points toward exponential gains in R&D productivity.

Five ways biopharma companies can navigate the deal landscape

– The biopharma investment landscape is changing. Companies that grasp recent macro trends in dealmaking and how they affect deal success could position themselves well for attractive opportunities.

Europe’s Bio Revolution: Biological innovations for complex problems

– Advances in biological science could help the world overcome its most pressing challenges in health and sustainability. Europe’s Bio Revolution could translate scientific strengths into impact.

The Helix report: Is biopharma wired for future success?

– The biopharmaceutical industry has made remarkable achievements in the past decade, but is it equipped to leap still further ahead in the coming one? Company leaders’ answers to nine questions could prove decisive.

How the European biotech sector can navigate turbulent times

– The recent market downturn has affected biotechs worldwide. But the fundamentals are still strong in Europe, where companies have an opportunity to lead the next phase of bioscience innovation.

A biotech survival kit for a challenging public-market environment

– After a decade of plenty, biotechs are grappling with a challenging market. To emerge strongly, they can streamline R&D and G&A expenses, evaluate new financing options, and consider mergers with other biotechs.

Vision 2028: How China could impact the global biopharma industry

– China-originated biopharmas will likely have greater influence on the industry by 2028, but regulatory developments and the quality of partnerships will determine how the industry grows.

What are the biotech investment themes that will shape the industry?

– From 2019 to 2021, venture capitalists plowed $35 billion into biotech companies with advanced platform technologies that could transform the industry.

CROs and biotech companies: Fine-tuning the partnership

– Emerging biotechnology companies are less satisfied than large pharmaceutical companies with their contract research organizations (CROs). How can CROs raise their game with this key segment?

How biotechs can rethink their strategies after the market downturn

– Biotech stocks have taken a hit, but the sector will probably rebound. Companies can navigate the downturn by scrutinizing cash management and financing and rethinking paths to long-term value creation.

Building a global biotech: Taking a first-time launch into international markets

– Establishing an international presence with a first launch is a challenge, but learning from others’ experiences can help biotechs avoid missteps and maximize their chances of success.

What’s ahead for biotech: Another wave or low tide?

– Even in tough times, investor expectations and deal making in biotech are surging. Can the sector maintain its strong growth?

Can European biotechs achieve greater scale in a fragmented landscape?

– World-class science and innovation need to be matched with stronger scale-up capabilities and a broader funding base if Europe is to emerge as a leader in biotech.

Related Practices


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