The top 5 trends for biotech in 2015

The year ahead marks an important stretch for the biotech industry. Billions of dollars in new investments have been made in drug development, R&D is being globalized more than ever before and new technologies and drug classes are moving at a fast clip through the clinic. Damian Garde and I have been watching events on a daily basis, and we got together recently to assess what we believe are the 5 top trends to watch in the year ahead.

Trend spotting is a risky business in biotech. Drug R&D is vulnerable to every business virus known to commerce. If the general market catches the flu, biotech can go into a coma, as anyone who was looking to craft an IPO in 2008 learned. But every warm breeze also fills many sails, and that's been more than obvious in the year behind us. While Big Pharma continues to struggle mightily with the loss of franchise drug revenue, a host of biotechs has been confidently cruising ahead with new drugs and a roster of new deals. 

For the pharma industry, weak numbers frequently called for more restructuring and cutbacks in R&D. But the rest of the industry has enjoyed some signal successes, and research budgets have been swelling along with new venture funds, IPOs and confidence in new technologies. In some cases the excitement may have tipped into hype. This is, after all, one of the riskiest fields on the planet with a monstrous failure rate, and there are signs that some investors may be losing sight of that. But there are enough smart bets out there to lend confidence that some of these gambles will pay off with significant new therapies.

And that is what it is all about.

Understanding these trends, and staying ahead of them, will be crucial to survival. At FierceBiotech, putting the news in context is our specialty. If you have any thoughts on our top trends that follow below, please add them to the comments section. We'll keep a close eye on them in the big year ahead.

In the meantime, we'll be taking our usual holiday break. Big news will continue to be posted on the websites, but you won't see a new email report until January 5. -- John Carroll (email | Twitter)

1. Approvals aren't enough; Big Pharma R&D restructuring will continue
2. Will a 2-year IPO boom continue into 2015? Maybe so, with caveats
3. A new era of immuno-oncology has arrived
4. 'Futuristic' treatments come to fruition with cell and gene therapies
5. Biotech goes global as Asia gets connected with the U.S. and Europe