Daybreak Information Technologies, a dynamic company focused exclusively on providing IT managed services to the biotech sector is the first of its kind globally, CEO Kevin Barrett tells Lynne Nolan.
When I’m talking to somebody about pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, large molecules, small molecules, whatever it might be, these are conversations I can have with senior executives in biotech because we speak the same language.
“It all started back in 1996 when I joined Elan Corporation plc, and I was their director of IT in their corporate function and over many years I rose to the ranks of Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, a position I took on in early 2003,” recalls Kevin Barrett, Chief Executive Officer at Daybreak Information Technologies.
Now at the helm of Daybreak, an independent private company established in 2013 through Elan’s outsourcing of its entire IT function, Barrett led the implementation of a Global IT management control system for Elan certified to ISO 9001, ISO 20000-1, ISO 27001 and ISO 38500 back in 2003.
He also held responsibility for the global implementation of SAP at Elan, in addition to a broad array of systems and technologies in support of the drug development lifecycle.
Barrett ̶ a systems analyst by training ̶ bucked the trend in the IT sector whereby “CIOs tend to survive three to five years at best,” by holding the role of CIO at Elan for more than 10 years. He describes Elan, where “you’re a business person first and an IT person second,” as “probably one of the most incredibly tough training grounds that there was.”
He reflects on the level of exposure to very significant business transactions while working at Elan, where he managed all IT aspects of the Johnson & Johnson transaction, valued at US $1.3 billion, for Elan in 2009.
“It’s interesting to note that anyone who has actually left Elan, have gone on to significant achievements in different companies because others recognise not just their functional capability, but their business sense.”
With offices in Dublin and Silicon Valley, Daybreak’s executive management team includes Chief Business Officer (CBO) Pat Pollard, former VP Applications at Elan, and CTO/ CISO Paddy Roberts, former VP Governance and Control at Elan.
The team’s “in-depth domain knowledge borne from extensive experience in biotech benefits our customers as we understand their business, make complimentary improvements and ensure their IT investments are business focused and add value.”
After the collapse of the world markets in 2008 and 2009, while working at Elan, Barrett “set about as CIO looking at various supply options” and brought in Gartner to look at the costs and quality measures of services provided to Elan within Elan.
“We spent a lot of time looking for an external service provider who could meet the need, and two key data points came back from those two pieces of work.”
Firstly, Elan’s IT function was operating at about 20% less than peer or outsource. Secondly, “having spent the better part of 18 months looking for a vendor who could provide a single solution, we could not find one.”
“In other words, what we found was there were vendors who did drug safety, or document management, or statistical analysis, but no one vendor was capable of providing the totality of the IT service. Then of course it struck me, I had the makings of the one IT vendor I’d been looking for right under my nose.”
Certified to ISO 9001 and operating at significantly lower than other supply models, with a “very strong biotech IT team”, the idea for Daybreak was born. “I said to myself, I already had what I looking for. I then approached Elan CEO Kelly Martin, around 2009 and presented it as a business plan to him. He thought it was a very good idea, but of course, the timing wasn’t right.”
Barrett’s persistence paid off and Martin agreed to proceed with the transaction in 2012, which would involve taking the IT function out of Elan into a new privately held company.
In April 2013, Elan transferred its IT operations, processes, assets and management to Daybreak after signing an MSA. By July, Daybreak had signed an MSA with Prothena, a clinical stage biotechnology company in the Bay area and “we are effectively their IT function, they fully outsourced IT to us. We have since signed another one, but I cannot name them at this time.”
Daybreak is uniquely qualified as the world’s only ISO-certified IT partner focused exclusively on biotechnology, and although there are a number of IT service providers focused on life sciences, Barrett stresses that life sciences is an incredibly broad subject encompassing everything from over-the-counter medication to diagnostics to pharma.
“We do not deal with diagnostics or big pharma, we only deal with biotech. You will not find another IT service provider that comes from biotech, actually comes from biotech, and focuses exclusively on biotech,” he comments.
“If you’re the CEO of a biotech company and you’re looking at your IT capability and you decide that it needs to be enhanced, or it’s costing too much, or it’s not providing the level of service, and you look for an outsource service provider, the first thing that will happen is you will find it extraordinarily difficult to find one,” he points out.
Prior to working with Elan, Barrett worked for Dublin law firm McCann FitzGerald as head of IT for seven years, which he describes as an “extraordinarily interesting experience.”
“McCann FitzGerald had the vision and determination to fully leverage technology for the benefit of the firm and its clients and to look way beyond networked word processing and matter management that were the technology mainstays of law firms at the time. From a technologist’s point of view, this was an ideal environment in which to add value.”
In addition to its exclusive focus on biotech, Daybreak offers other unique selling points. “We’re certified to international standards and we are typically a 20% value play. Like for like, we can deliver the service for 20% less than they can do internally or that any other service provider can provide.”
“The reason for that is very simple,” he says. “We have been certified to ISO 9000 since 1997. We took all of that out of Elan; all of the processes, all of the capability. What we do has been honed and refined over the past 15 years. We are a technology solutions company but, of more importance, we improve patients’ lives, that’s not something you’re going to hear from an IT vendor.”
“We speak the language that is biotech. That is the most important aspect of what we do. When I’m talking to somebody about pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, large molecules, small molecules, whatever it might be, these are conversations I can have with senior executives in biotech. I know what they’re talking about and they know what I’m talking about, so we speak the biotech language, which is not normal for an IT services company,” he enthuses.
Daybreak provides superior managed IT services enabling biotechnology to advance science, accelerate drug development and ultimately improve patients’ lives, counting some of the world’s leading companies as customers, he says.
According to John Hartnett, Daybreak’s Chairman and President of the Irish Technology Leadership Group, “the biotech market is more than a $500 billion industry worldwide that is ripe for outsourcing technology services.”
Discussing future plans and responding to the incredible potential within the biotech space, Barrett intends to drive Daybreak’s growth by organic acquisition of clients, acquisition of other companies, and “alliance agreements with other companies where there is a nice dovetail of their services into the broader Daybreak service.”
Daybreak bought the Dublin-based digital evidence and investigations start-up Cernam in February this year, and “we’re already hiring to expand our team as we gear up to provide Cernam’s service to the US market.”
Cernam will operate as a stand-alone subsidiary of Daybreak and will be ‘sector agnostic’, offering its services to all industries and not just biotech, Barrett explains. Every industry type has a need for digital evidence services, he believes, and with its high incidence of intellectual property and litigation, biotech has a higher need than all other sectors, giving Cernam’s products and services a competitive edge.
The biotech space is rife with litigation, from patent lawsuits to patient lawsuits, he says, all of which gives rise to an enormous amount of e-discovery work.
“You will see more of that from us as we go forward; alliance agreements leading to acquisitions or direct acquisitions,” he says.
Through Cernam’s proven and highly complementary skillset, Daybreak added much sought-after e-discovery and digital forensics products and services to its specialist capabilities.
“There’s going to be an investment of many millions of dollars in that space [digital evidence]. We also have a contract management system that’s very much focused on contract lifecycle management, very specific to biotech,” he says.
Daybreak is also currently developing software and capabilities around document management and mobile computing supporting clinical development areas of biotech, all of which are focused on increasing financial flexibility for Biotech companies and reducing the amount of time and cost in the drug development lifecycle.
“We’re growing at a pace that’s ahead of our original targets. We’re delighted with the reaction that we’re getting from the biotech market and we’re pleased to see that our strategy to be exclusively focused on biotech and certified to three international standards is resonating strongly with the biotech market.”