Flying high worldwide ... but under the local radar
If there’s one thing Nova Scotians are good at, it’s being unassuming. Heads down, working hard, staying the course — businesses often go unrecognized even when they’re making big waves.
A case in point is Partner International Inc., a local company that has flown under the radar for many years, yet has facilitated billions of dollars in transactions. And the president and CEO is one of our own.
Joanne Ball-Gautschi has grown this life sciences/advanced technology-based firm into a global player by helping facilitate international business from a base here in Nova Scotia.
Partner International, with offices in Dartmouth, Switzerland, Australia and the U.S., is a corporate and business development firm serving the life sciences and technology sectors — namely the pharmaceutical, bio-technology, marine, aerospace and defence industries.
The company’s globally-based team facilitates and oversees corporate development, including licensing, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures and new sales channels for these companies, connecting players large and small.
With a dedicated team of experts, Partner International has completed thousands of transactions thanks to its global network of members that includes PhDs, MDs, engineers, and geographic and industry-area specialists. These partners operate in North America, Europe, the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and South America.
In all, Partner International has a presence in 26 countries and has access to decision-makers in its network of more than 45,000 contacts.
Recent examples of transactions include the divestiture of a multinational pharmaceutical company’s facility, the acquisition of products for a European specialty pharmaceutical company, and the out-licensing of the dermatology and ophthalmology portfolio of a European bio-tech firm. They’ve also facilitated many partnerships for aerospace and defense companies internationally.
The company’s clients range from small startups through to Fortune 500 companies — but most of the work it does for them is strictly confidential.
“This is largely why Partner International flies under the radar,” explains Ball-Gautschi. “Confidentiality is essential to what we do and who we work with. From pharmaceutical companies to research involving the defence industry, the work is often highly sensitive.”
Leading woman at a leading company
Recognized by the University of Ottawa as a Leading Woman Entrepreneur in the advanced technology sector, Ball-Gautschi has built her career around the life science, marine and aerospace industries, sitting for more than 12 years on the board of the Aerospace and Defence Industry Association of Nova Scotia, and as the first female to hold the board position of executive vice-president.
Ball-Gautschi recognized early on the value of strategic relationships, identifying a gap between CEOs and researchers and the marketplace. It was apparent to her that technology-based firms were in need of good business development.
“Companies will often outsource accounting or legal services, but should be looking at doing so for their business development as well,” says Ball-Gautschi.
“The advanced technology and life sciences sector is a chief engine of Canadian economic growth. But the research and science cannot stand alone,” she continues. “There seemed to be a management and business development piece missing.” Hence Ball-Gautschi’s creation of Partner International.
“Good business development expertise is difficult to find in our market. Relationships, networks and contacts are essential elements for successful corporate and business development — and the life science and technology sectors are no exception to this.”
Partner International has developed a robust proprietary database, developed to track the confidential, high-level information gathered through years of relationships with life science, pharmaceutical, biotechnology and aerospace and defense companies worldwide, as well as relationships with universities and research institutions.
“We have built and nurtured a network that enables us to identify confidential transactions which are not easily established at conventions or partnering events,” says Ball-Gautschi.
“Sales and revenue are what keeps a company going. We work with tech-based companies, doctors, engineers and senior scientists, but often their focus is on developing the technology and science — not on how the product will get out to the world, or on securing the licensing partners and sales channels to advance the research. That’s where we excel.”
And, in the end, it’s the public who benefits. For example, Partner International is currently facilitating partnering opportunities for a firm working on targeted therapies to fight metastatic cancers.
“One of our clients is developing a new cancer treatment for patients suffering from solid tumors such as pancreatic, ovarian and colorectal cancers,” explains Ball-Gautschi. “Its effectiveness is supported by extensive pre-clinical data and encouraging data from patient treatment.
“The company is preparing to enter the clinic with its therapy, and is seeking to explore partnering relationships with companies that can continue the clinical and commercial development of the program. That’s where we come in.”
Partner International essentially inserts themselves into the client’s company, acting as a team member of that company for the duration of time needed to reach its business objectives.
“Rightfully so, scientists, researchers and technologists are focused on the development of the product or technology. That’s why we exist, so they can let the experts in business development and strategy handle that end of things.”
And geography or distance is no barrier to the company’s process.
“We represent organizations from all over the globe including Canada, the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, the Asia Pacific and emerging markets,” says Mark Regular, Partner International’s executive director. “The technology industry is globally focused and so are we. Establishing partnerships worldwide is key to our clients’ success and that’s what we bring to table.”
Under Ball-Gautschi’s leadership, Partner International will continue to fly under the radar, keeping the technology, aerospace, marine and life sciences sectors connected in ways that ensure the economy — and lives — are enhanced.