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Why it is great to be a small fish in a big pond!

By John Illingworth, MD, Illingworth Research.

I recently read an article in Outsourcing Pharma regarding the focus of large CROs on big strategic clients and that small to mid-tier biopharm may be deserting them for fear of being overshadowed. The article highlights an important issue but it is not new that the large CROs focus their resource on the top 10 pharma. Instead the recent headlines relating to the current strategic deals have just made the situation more obvious to the outside world.

Whilst the headlines may cause concern to the small to medium biotech and pharma, the result is that such companies are identifying alternative providers to assist them in running their clinical trials. As a consequence, the smaller CROs are benefitting by establishing working relationships with clients who would have previously only considered large CROs. This has certainly been our experience at Illingworth Research where in the last year we have won at least three new clients, who otherwise would likely have chosen one of the leading global CROs. Smaller CROs are often able to provide a more bespoke service, which typically clients do not receive from the larger CROs, particularly those who focus their attention on other larger clients.

As far as I am concerned, smaller CROs are in a win-win situation, as not only have they gained the attention of small biotech and pharma companies, but they also have the opportunity to work with big pharma by adding specific expertise big CROs may not have.

In the case of Illingworth Research, this expertise comes in the form of our sister company ResearchNurses.co, the UK’s leading independent provider of research nurses. Our experienced nurses work across a wide range of therapeutic areas and can provide their services on site and in the homecare setting, where they  are able to administer Investigational Medicinal Product, complete CRF or eCRFs and perform sample collection and processing. This has proved to be an excellent way to enhance patient recruitment and retention.

Another area of expertise that sets us apart is our newly launched specialised medical photography service, which has already received a lot of interest, not only from pharma & biotech companies but also big CROs. With over 20 years of clinical trials imaging and analysis, our highly qualified medical photographers can provide high quality, accurate and standardised visual evidence to ensure the best results for clinical research.

There is no way we could take on a global programme of let’s say half a dozen multi-continental studies; this is a job for big CROs. But we do work in partnership with some of the leading CROs and support them by providing additional monitoring with CRAs and through the specialist and unique expertise we have built over the years.

I firmly believe that there are many opportunities for smaller CROs in this industry. Our relationship with large CROs is symbiotic and we, at Illingworth Research, are the proof that being a small fish in a big pond is not always a bad thing!



Small to mid-tier biopharm may be deserting large CROs because they feel  “overshadowed” by big strategic clients, an analyst said.