Example Business Analysis of NovoCure Ltd

Published:

A delivery system for the "Tumor Treating Fields" (TTFs); these TTFs are alternating electrical fields that target cancerous cells in an effort to disrupt the mitosis process (and thus halting, and possibly reversing cancer progression).

Describe your target customers and the size of the market?

Target customers:

Hospitals and care providers for patients with various forms of cancer (focusing first on recurrent glioblastoma before moving into malignant melanoma, breast carcinoma, and non-small cell lung carcinoma).

Market size:

The eventual market size is rather large; currently, however, the target markets size is limited to cancer patients suffering from recurrent glioblastoma.

List and describe your current competitors?

Biotechnology companies:

Dendreon - focuses on curing prostate cancer with artificial protein chains

ImClone Systems - developer of anti-cancer vaccines

Genentech - a leading force in biotechnology focusing on creating new innovations through technology

Company information taken from Wikipedia and respective websites

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Cancer curing technologies:

Chemotherapy

Radiation therapy

Surgery

List and describe your potential competitors?

Biotechnology is an emerging field that has vast potential for lucrative returns. However, this field requires extensive knowledge & startup capital, and has lengthy approval processes - both factors that are significant barriers to entry. Potential competitors to NovoCure Ltd. are its current competitors (such as Dendreon, ImClone Systems, and Genentech) and medical research organizations and universities.

Who will you purchase materials, components, or other inputs from?

Basic components (such as plastic housing, insulating material, wiring, and computer components) are purchased from outside suppliers at the lowest possible prices for the highest possible quality.

All commercial products were developed in-house at NovoCure Ltd. (exempting the crystal that was purchased from an outside resource (this crystal was, however, not used to create the final commercial product).

All technology used in the commercial products is proprietary.

SWOT-Analysis (consider human resources, R&D, marketing, procurement, manufacturing, distribution, engineering, IT, finance, accounting, and legal):

What are your strengths (products, R&D, supply chain, brand, pricing, core competencies, resources, infrastructure, scalability & interfaces)?

Strong research and development

New / Effective technologies

Successful 1st and 2nd FDA trials

Granted European approval (CE Mark)

What are your weaknesses (products, R&D, supply chain, brand, pricing, core competencies, resources, infrastructure, scalability & interfaces)?

[Extreme] Lack of capital

Lack of knowledge of important business processes (sales, marketing, etc.)

Lack of knowledge about how to transition business direction from research to commercialization

Lack of business relationships up- and down- stream

What are the opportunities (growth, market share, product lines, Blue Ocean, complimentary products, lock-in, brand, & first mover adv.)?

Blue Ocean Product: Tumor Treating Fields

Growth opportunities: TTFs are very effective (alone and synergistically) - once attaining FDA approval they should be eagerly adopted by care providers

What are the threats (substitutes, emerging technologies, new entrants, economic climate, government regulations, and social/culture issues)?

Lack of 3rd FDA trial approval (and capital required to pursue it)

Technology lock-in: other forms of treatment have been proven whereas TTFs show potential but are yet to be completely proven

Economic Climate: unable to procure much needed financing

Strategy canvas for new product compared to competitor or industry:

Attribute Category

Meaning of product or service↓

BOF POD

POP EXT

BOF POD

POP EXT

BOF POD

POP EXT

BOF POD

POP EXT

BOF POD

POP EXT

BOF POD

POP EXT

BOF POD

POP EXT

Attribute Name

Price

Quality

TTF

FDA Approval

European Approval

Delivery Method

i.e. Effectivness

Tumor Treating Field

Having It

Having It

Ease/ Comfort (at home vs. hospital)

Very High

NovoCure / Competition

NovoCure

NovoCure

Competition

(already approved)

NovoCure / Competition

NovoCure

High

NovoCure / Competiton

NovoCure / Competition

(SYNERGY)

Average

Competition

Competition

Low

NovoCure

(3rd trial)

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Business Plan Template

What is your mantra?

Better living through better technology.

What is the overall mission of the business?

Our mission is to provide a proven, minimally intrusive method of retarding cancer progression in terminally ill patients.

How will you make money in terms of product differentiation and / or being the low cost producer & what complimentary products and services will be offered to generate recurring revenues?

Product differentiation: NovoCure Ltd. is currently the only organization to offer cancer treatment options that use electrically charged fields to retard cancer progression. Another point of differentiation is that NovoCure Ltd.'s methods have proven to have significant synergistic effects when used in conjunction with other treatment methods and to be more effective stand-alone than other cancer treatment methods (longer life spans of terminally ill patients).

Taken from case materials

Complimentary services: NovoCure Ltd. will offer technical support and training services to care centers and care providers.

What are your goals & objectives over the next 3 months?

Launch commercially in Europe.

Secure financing for 3rd FDA Trial (Pivotal Trial Phase).

Expand business infrastructure to handle switch from research-orientation to commercial-orientation.

What tactics will you use over the next 3 months to a year to reach your objectives and mission?

Pursue business contacts with care centers and physicians in Europe.

Pursue various financing options.

Hire outside consultants to create action plans for the change of corporate focus.

Hire new division heads for sales, technical support, and other business sectors.

Hire new employees with experience in the aforementioned business sectors.

MAD Template

Product or service description:

A portable device, for use by health care professionals, to deliver Tumor Treating Fields to terminally ill cancer patients. Tumor Treating Fields are alternating electrical fields that target cancerous cells in an effort to disrupt the mitosis process (and thus halting, and possibly reversing cancer progression).

What is the meaning(s) behind the product or service?

Provide health care benefits to cancer patients.

Provide feelings of salvation.

Most of these patients have been given limited amounts of time to live; TTFs have significantly extended those allotments.

Provide feelings of happiness (see above).

Identify potential service attributes, features and functions:

Quality:

NovoCure Ltd. will be using high quality production materials.

Performance:

NovoCure Ltd. products are thoroughly tested, both in house and through various testing processes (FDA, et. al.), and perform reliably every time.

TTFs, solitarily, have been shown to lengthen lifespans of terminally ill patients.

TTFs, in conjunction with other technologies, have been shown to have a synergistic effect (i.e. greater effect than the sum of both technologies).

Technology:

NovoCure Ltd. technology is new, minimally invasive, and has been proven to retard cancer progression.

List the attributes and features that will be focused on (and in particular those that reinforce the meaning):

Points of Parity and Must-Haves (POPs)

The ability to retard cancer

Points of Difference and Differentiators (PODs)

The ability to be minimally invasive

Able to be used while the patient sleeps

Use of electrical fields to retard cancer progression

Blue Ocean Features and Exciters (BOFs)

Use of electrical fields to retard cancer progression

Doesn't cause illness (as opposed to radiation and chemo therapies that do)

Extinct and Vestigial Features (EXTs)

None (cancer needs to be cured - this device helps cure cancer)

Dissatisfiers (DISs)

Lacks FDA approval

INTRODUCTION

Founded in 2000, NovoCure Ltd. is attempting to enter a "Blue Ocean" by offering a method for curing various forms of cancer by means of alternating electrical fields that target cancerous cells during the mitosis stage (a process that has yet to be utilized by others). This technology is also the greatest point of differentiation for the company; there are other means of "curing" cancer, but NovoCure Ltd. has created a process that is the least invasive and the least damaging. This process is the creation of Dr. Yoram Palti who theorized that cancerous cells could be eradicated during cell division without harming otherwise healthy cells. In order to make this cure (technology) available to patients, NovoCure Ltd. has developed a device capable of generating all of the beneficial effects of this new treatment within a portable form factor.

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Since founding, NovoCure Ltd. has faced difficulties in procuring the significant amounts of outside funding necessary to pursue both product development and FDA trials; now, with the necessity of pursuing commercialization, NovoCure Ltd. is facing a crisis of organizational focus as well.

RECOMMENDATION - 001

Pursue Outside Investment / Philanthropist Options

NovoCure Ltd. is need of approximately $50 million in order to finish the final FDA trial; an amount that the organization cannot easily generate on its own. There are, however, several options available for procuring outside financing that NovoCure Ltd. can pursue, each with associated pros and cons. The three options for financing presented in the case are:

Raise additional venture capital

Attract a strategic investor

Attract venture philanthropists

The first option, seeking out additional venture capital, is the least appealing for NovoCure Ltd.; in the current economic climate the only active investor is the government thus negating most efforts to attract a venture capitalist. If NovoCure Ltd. were to pursue this option (at the expense of the others) the organization would falter. Business after business has fallen in the current economy due not only to poor management but also poor financial planning. Venture capitalists are seeking to finance viable (i.e. profitable) organizations; currently, NovoCure Ltd. is not a financially viable company. With the organization caught between finishing FDA trials and commercializing its product NovoCure Ltd. will fail without procuring outside financing. Here, the issue is that venture capitalists won't invest until NovoCure Ltd. has either successfully completed FDA trials or commercialized its product (for sale in European markets) and NovoCure Ltd. can't complete the FDA trials or commercialize its product without outside financing. Due to the circular nature of this option NovoCure Ltd. would be better suited pursuing either of the other two options (or a hybrid of the two).

The second option, securing a strategic investor, has several benefits with limited disadvantages. First, NovoCure Ltd. may be able to attract an investor that is capable of providing both direction and focus to the organization; this benefit is extremely important as NovoCure Ltd. is currently in dire need of switching focus from research to commercialization. Attracting an investor with this sort of experience can reduce turnaround time for the organization (and thus reduce overall costs). The second benefit is that NovoCure Ltd. may be able to generate the full amount of required capital from a single investor instead of sounding out multiple venture capitalists. This option, however, also comes with a significant drawback: the possibility of selling licenses to cancer indicators that would otherwise remain the sole property of NovoCure Ltd.. While this drawback may result in potentially reduced future revenue for NovoCure Ltd., the potential benefits far outweigh any negative future possibilities. Attracting a strategic investor is essentially a process of give-and-take; in order to receive all the benefits of a strategic investor then NovoCure Ltd. needs to be willing to offer incentives in return.

The final option, approaching and attracting venture philanthropists, has a very impressive benefit and a very mild detriment. If NovoCure Ltd. were to successfully attract venture philanthropists (such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) the organization would be able to receive much needed capital (in the form of grants and donations) to further FDA trials and begin the commercialization process. Venture philanthropists essentially offer "free money" to worthy causes (such as NovoCure Ltd.). However, the drawback associated with this option is that the funding isn't coupled with strategic advice. Although NovoCure Ltd. would have an influx of capital a portion of it would need to be spent procuring and training new employees to begin the commercialization process.

RECOMMENDATION - 002

Launch the Product in Europe

NovoCure Ltd. has pursued two different methods of product approval: acquiring the CE Mark in Europe and completing FDA trials in the United States of America. While NovoCure Ltd. has received the CE Mark the organization is still in need of finishing the 3rd (and final) stage of FDA trials (Pivotal Trial Phase). One of the main dilemmas that NovoCure Ltd. is currently facing is accumulating the capital required to finish the final FDA trial and receive approval for selling the product within the United States of America.

In order to secure financing for the 3rd FDA trial and the necessary capital for the commercialization process the organization should launch the product in Europe. Several employees of NovoCure Ltd. believe that to launch in Europe without FDA approval would be seen as presumptuous (especially if the product were to fail the 3rd FDA trial). However, by not launching in Europe NovoCure Ltd. is limiting itself unnecessarily. By ignoring the approval already granted in Europe, NovoCure Ltd. is essentially ignoring an opportunity to start its commercialization process (which could then be fine tuned before entering the US market) and turning away from a significant amount of revenue.

NovoCure Ltd. should launch in Europe while sounding out other means of securing the much needed financing for the final FDA trial. By doing so, the organization will be able to not only generate its own capital for future trials, but also begin the process of switching the organizational focus from research to commercialization. Lastly, if NovoCure Ltd. launches in Europe the organization, at the least, has the potential to create a viable business in the event the product fails the final FDA trial. By creating a revenue stream (and thus becoming viable), NovoCure Ltd. may be able to secure venture capitalists (previously unadvised) which could negate the necessity of pursuing strategic investors or venture philanthropists.

RECOMMENDATION - 003

Don't Develop Capability In-House, Hire Outside Consultants and New Employees

NovoCure Ltd. is facing a crisis of vision and direction: switching the focus of the organization from research to commercialization. This issue boils down to not only organizational management but also project management. Organizationally, NovoCure Ltd. needs to switch the bulk of the business focus towards commercialization (while maintaining a strong research focus so as to generate new products and technologies). As far as project management is concerned NovoCure Ltd. needs to reorganize itself into different business functions (such as sales, research and development, marketing, etc.) and create capability within each function. In order to accomplish this change NovoCure Ltd. needs to bring in outside consultants and hires; the first being capable of recommending the necessary vision and staffing changes for the organization and the second being able to help carry out these changes.

By bringing in outside consultants NovoCure Ltd. can gain the knowledge necessary to switch from research to commercialization without the trial-and-error process required for developing the capability in-house. This benefit alone can save the organization much needed capital and time.

In addition to bringing in outside consultants, NovoCure Ltd. will have to hire dedicated employees for various business functions (such as sales, technical support, and other managerial aspects). This process is necessary because it can't be expected for researchers to instantly switch gears (or professions) in such a dramatic way. Also, by hiring trained and experienced employees NovoCure Ltd. can avoid the time requirement and pitfalls of developing the required proficiencies in-house.

By bringing in outside consultants and dedicated employees for new business functions NovoCure Ltd. can create the much needed commercialization functionality almost immediately, thus avoiding the time and capital expenditures required by not doing so.

CONCLUSION

NovoCure Ltd. is at a crossroads; the organization needs to procure financing to move forward but each possible option carries detrimental requirements. In order to move the company into the next stage (be it the 3rd FDA trial or commercialization) NovoCure Ltd. needs to seek out investors and employees capable of realizing the organizations full potential while simultaneously launching their technology in approved regions. Both of these decisions would allow NovoCure Ltd. the opportunity to become a viable, respectable company that could forever change cancer treatment.