Revenue slid 10% to $9 million
“We plan to keep expanding with a focus on scientific and medical communications. It’s our sweet spot”
“AR and VR are not going away, and they will expand into virtual meetings and very realistic patient experiences. And we’ll see more content directed at caregivers, promoting empathy”
Got an interest in human skeletons? A passion for virtual reality? Then you’ll likely be entranced by Invivo Communications’ The Enlightened League of Bone Builders, an HTC Vive game already played more than 24,000 times. But for Invivo president Andrea Bielecki, who says the game is the best VR experience her company has ever created, its popularity is a bit of a mixed blessing.
“Clients are demanding projects such as these now, so everyone is saying they can do VR and AR. But most agencies still just have a person or two on staff and then outsource the rest. Potential clients can’t tell that from a demo reel,” she explains. “And we’ve been at this for 20 years.”
The increased competition is perhaps one of the reasons Invivo’s revenue dipped to $9 million in 2016, down from $10 million. It also shed five staffers, leaving the total at 70.
“We thought we’d have a killer growth year, but we didn’t,” Bielecki says.
But the agency’s depth and breadth of experience is paying off in other ways. For example, when Invivo pitched its “Brain Atrophy in MS” idea to Lemtrada marketer Genzyme, the response was exactly the kind of validation Bielecki’s team needed. “This idea, although full of new technology, was based on 20 years’ worth of MS research,” she recalls. “So the data was familiar, but it was the interactive visualization that pulled physicians into the narrative and drove home the patient’s story.”
Another potential explanation for the revenue decline may actually be good news. “Companies are finding ways to put a single project to use in many ways and reusing assets, which increases their ROI,” Bielecki notes. “Perhaps doing a VR experience doesn’t make sense as a one-off, but we can also do an animation and put it on a website, then turn it into an iPad experience for sales reps, and then have this larger experience at shows. Now the client is leveraging that content.”
In addition to its work for Genzyme, Invivo was busy last year on projects for Ironshore Pharmaceuticals & Development, including its Delexis Drug Delivery Platform, a technology that provides delayed and extended drug release. It also picked up new project work for Pfizer, Sanofi, Sirtex Medical, and Ultimate Medica.
All things considered, Bielecki considers 2016 “a good year, with lots of learning and many opportunities.” This year is shaping up well, with the agency seeing a resurgence of interest in games, both for doctors and for sales training.
To hone its ability to translate scientific content into interactive digital solutions, Invivo brought aboard three medical writers, including director of medical content Bonnie Kuehl. “Content is king, and it has to be both medically accurate and relevant,” Bielecki notes.