How File Sharing Helps Life Sciences Innovate

by Matt Ferrari
Co-founder and Former CTO

As part of my job, I often receive merger and acquisition information and data sheets that are confidential and therefore require that I sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). While these communications generally utilize secure document sharing software, they often still come over email, which from a security and compliance perspective, makes me uncomfortable. Folks need to know there’s a better way out there to share confidential documents, especially since once you send a file by email–even “secure” email–there is always the chance it can be forwarded, and you’ve therefore lost control of your confidential information. I recently had an opportunity to take an in-depth look at a great solution with ShareVault’s CEO and founder Richard Andersen.

If you’re in the life sciences industry, you may have already partnered with ShareVault. They have customers in 48 countries, and 38 of the top big 40 global pharma companies have used them, but smaller companies doing some of the most innovative work in healthcare may not realize what a viable and affordable solution ShareVault offers. The ShareVault solution provides a user-friendly way for customers to securely share data and documents with potential partners and investors who generally are a crucial part of bringing their innovation through the long, arduous and expensive journey from discovery to market.

I’ve worked with Box, DropBox, SharePoint, Office365 and other document sharing solutions (which Richard termed “File Sync N Share” platforms), and ShareVault indeed connects and syncs with all of these. That way, you can keep your corporate tools in place, but use ShareVault to add an extra layer of security when sharing final documents with outside parties.  ShareVault also offers unique features that augment their virtual document sharing solution, and I want to take a moment to point them out and emphasize how useful they are. I expect that you may benefit from these features if you are similar to the many ClearDATA customers in life sciences and pharma with whom I speak on a daily basis.

First, let’s talk about sharing. When a life sciences innovator is shopping potential partners (and vice versa) the volume of documents being shared can exceed tens of thousands of pages. With ShareVault 4.0, the parties have the confidence of knowing authentication is happening all the time, even with vast numbers of pages and large quantities of data. Moreover, if you share a document with someone who no longer should have access to it, ShareVault enables you to retrieve it and “virtually shred it” – even if it’s been downloaded to the person’s computer or device. That’s a big deal as partnership discussions move forward, and you narrow down the multiple parties reviewing your documents.

As someone who reviews deals, I also like to have an accountable, auditable trail of the discussions I’ve had, what we discussed and when we had the discussion. With ShareVault, any reviewer can easily see where they left off in the document review process – what they reviewed, what’s left to review, as well as what items they’ve favorited. None of us work in a vacuum, and the ability to maintain efficiency in the review process, with so many daily interruptions in our jobs, is critical to effective due diligence.

Another feature I really like is how ShareVault enables you to ask questions as you review documents. The asker maintains complete anonymity while ShareVault routes the question within its software to the appropriate parties, and they can then post a private response or choose who should be allowed to view the response. All of this is documented for audit trails, and for the innovator, it’s incredibly useful to be able to issue a report to see what people are reviewing which assets and for how long. Imagine the power that gives you in your next phone call to a potential partner. It certainly beats emails flying back and forth that are not secure and pretty much impossible to track from a conversation flow viewpoint.

In addition to the ability to track who sees what and for how long, ShareVault streamlines the process for those who are doing due diligence. Large pharma companies that are repeat customers have their due diligence framework in place and reuse it from transaction to transaction. Consistency for this kind of operation provides agility that saves time and money.

Also, for companies that want total control, ShareVault offers managed keys, empowering the customer to be ultimately in charge of their own encryption as well as control the documents in the system. Even ShareVault engineers can’t see the documents you store in their system.

As a former software developer and a person who uses these kinds of apps all day every day, I appreciate knowing that I’m working in a secure, compliant environment that someone has thoughtfully designed with an intuitive and easy user interface. Instead of worrying about security and logistics, I can focus on the actual job at hand– sharing due diligence documents and getting good innovations to market faster.

Visiting with Richard was great. It became apparent to me why his market share is expanding so quickly when I saw his passion for providing his customers with intuitive tools that can streamline, secure, and improve their businesses at a lower cost than many other virtual data room providers. Moreover, for the companies that are investing millions of dollars–if not hundreds of millions–in new innovations, it’s great for them to receive due diligence materials efficiently as well as confidentially. It is a strong indication that the company requesting their partnership or investment recognizes the value of their intellectual property and is willing to provide maximum protection for it.

Some of the most amazing, life-changing innovations that will save and improve human lives are at our fingertips. Software organizations that are working to make healthcare research and development easier and more efficient are always an inspiration. Hats off to you and the team at ShareVault, Richard. Thanks for getting the hurdles out of the way so innovators and large pharma can focus on improving healthcare for us all.


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