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Laurie Knocke
Laurie Knocke, Boston Scientific

The POWER 30: Laurie Knocke

One of the advantages of working in house is that it’s nice to have one client who “invites you in,” said Laurie Knocke, in-house counsel at Boston Scientific.

As such, Knocke is integral to the company’s mergers and acquisitions, which involves a lot of innovative companies, technology with potential, small startup and some mid-caps. “We are not buying companies that are as large as we are,” Knocke said.

Knocke came to Boston Scientific with about 11 years of litigation experience behind her. That litigation experience provided lessons in how deals or disputes play out, she said. “I think my job would be much harder without that litigation background,” she added.

She likes doing the M&A work because it’s collaborative, not confrontational with the stress level of litigation, Knocke said. “Litigation is really hard on people.”

Plus, the company is focused on patient’s lives, with the motto “advancing science for life.” Many of their acquisitions are not yet fully commercial companies and may need approval from the Food and Drug Administration. That’s fine, Knocke said. “You’ve got the inventor, we have sales teams,” she explains. “But we have robust clinical, quality, R&D and manufacturing teams that may be involved with earlier-phase products.”

The companies need resources to take the next steps such as more research and development and meeting regulations outside of the U.S., and Boston Scientific needs their help to serve patients, she said.

“We need them to keep working, we tell them what we need them to do. We have systems and are regularly audited by the FDA. We have to have all our ducks in a row.

Their commitment to success is very important,” Knock said.

One of the challenges of acquiring or merging a company is bringing in new executives, Knocke said.  It’s a situation that must be handled with care and requires looking ahead, she added. “We tell them what we see as their role. [Serial entrepreneurs] aren’t necessarily looking for a permanent role. They want to see their product is OK and then go to another startup.”

Knock doesn’t foresee big changes in the M&A market, although it may slow down if there is a recession. “It is still a way to build new companies,” she said.