Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Critical Accounting Policies

Critical Accounting Policies
3 Months Ended
Mar. 31, 2017
Equity [Abstract]  
Critical Accounting Policies

2. Critical Accounting Policies

Research and development expenses

Research and development expenses are charged to the statement of operations as incurred. Research and development expenses are comprised of costs incurred in performing research and development activities, including salaries and benefits, facilities costs, pre-clinical and clinical costs, contract services, consulting, depreciation and amortization expense, and other related costs. Costs associated with acquired technology, in the form of upfront fees or milestone payments, are charged to research and development expense as incurred.

Revenue Recognition

Pieris has entered into several licensing and development agreements with collaboration partners for the development of Anticalin® therapeutics against a variety of targets in diseases and conditions. The terms of these agreements contain multiple elements and deliverables, which may include: (i) licenses, or options to obtain licenses, to Pieris’ Anticalin technology and (ii) research activities to be performed on behalf of the collaborative partner. Payments to Pieris, under these agreements, may include upfront fees (which include license and option fees), payments for research activities, payments based upon the achievement of certain milestones and royalties on product sales. There are no performance, cancellation, termination, or refund provisions in any of the arrangements. Pieris follows the provisions of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) Topic 605-25, Revenue Recognition—Multiple-Element Arrangements and ASC Topic 605-28, Revenue Recognition—Milestone Method in accounting for these agreements.

Multiple-Element Arrangements

When evaluating multiple-element arrangements, Pieris identifies the deliverables included within the agreement and evaluates which deliverables represent separate units of accounting based on whether the delivered element has stand-alone value to the customer or if the arrangement includes a general right of return for delivered items.


The consideration received is allocated among the separate units of accounting using the relative selling price method, and the applicable revenue recognition criteria are applied to each of the separate units of accounting. Pieris has used best estimate of selling price (“BESP”) methodology to estimate the selling price for licenses and options to acquire additional licenses to its proprietary technology because Pieris does not have vendor specific objective evidence (“VSOE”) or third party evidence (“TPE”) of selling price for these deliverables. To determine the estimated selling price of a license to its proprietary technology, Pieris considers market conditions as well as entity-specific factors, including those factors contemplated in negotiating the agreements, terms of previous collaborative agreements, similar agreements entered into by third parties, market opportunity, estimated development costs, probability of success, and the time needed to commercialize a product candidate pursuant to the license. In validating Pieris’ best estimate of selling price, Pieris evaluates whether changes in the key assumptions used to determine the best estimate of selling price will have a significant effect on the allocation of arrangement consideration among multiple deliverables.

Multiple element arrangements, such as license and development arrangements, are analyzed to determine whether the deliverables, which often include a license and performance obligations such as research and steering committee services, can be separated or whether they must be accounted for as a single unit of accounting in accordance with U.S. GAAP. The Company recognizes up-front license payments as revenue upon delivery of the license only if the license has stand-alone value. If the license is considered to not have stand-alone value, the arrangement would then be accounted for as a single unit of accounting and the license payments and payments for performance obligations are recognized as revenue over the estimated period of when the performance obligations are performed.

If the Company is involved in a steering committee as part of a multiple element arrangement, the Company assesses whether its involvement constitutes a performance obligation or a right to participate. Steering committee services that are determined to be performance obligations, are combined with other research services or performance obligations required under an arrangement, if any, in determining the level of effort required in an arrangement and the period over which the Company expects to complete its aggregate performance obligations.

The Company recognizes arrangement consideration allocated to each unit of accounting when all of the revenue recognition criteria in ASC 605 are satisfied for that particular unit of accounting. Whenever the Company determines that an arrangement should be accounted for as a single unit of accounting, it must determine the period over which the performance obligations will be performed and revenue will be recognized. Revenue will be recognized using either a relative performance or straight-line method. The Company recognizes revenue using the proportional performance method provided the Company can reasonably estimate the level of effort required to complete its performance obligations under an arrangement and such performance obligations are provided on a best-effort basis. Full-time equivalents are typically used as the measure of performance.

Significant management judgment is required in determining the level of effort required under an arrangement and the period over which the Company is expected to complete its performance obligations under an arrangement.

The accounting treatment for options granted to collaborators is dependent upon the nature of the option granted to the collaborative partner. Options are considered substantive if, at the inception of an agreement, Pieris is at risk as to whether the collaborative partner will choose to exercise the options to secure additional goods or services. Factors that are considered in evaluating whether options are substantive include the overall objective of the arrangement, the benefit the collaborator might obtain from the agreement without exercising the options, the cost to exercise the options relative to the total upfront consideration, and the additional financial commitments or economic penalties imposed on the collaborator as a result of exercising the options.

In arrangements where options to obtain additional deliverables are considered substantive, Pieris determines whether the optional licenses are priced at a significant and incremental discount. If the prices include a significant and incremental discount, the option is considered a deliverable in the arrangement. However, if not priced at a discount, the elements included in the arrangement are considered to be only the non-contingent elements. When a collaborator exercises an option to acquire an additional license, the exercise fee that is attributed to the additional license and any incremental discount allocated at inception are recognized in a manner consistent with the treatment of up-front payments for licenses (i.e., license and research services). In the event an option expires un-exercised, any incremental discounts deferred at the inception of the arrangement are recognized into revenue upon expiration. For options that are non-substantive, the additional licenses to which the options pertain are considered deliverables upon inception of the arrangement, and Pieris applies the multiple-element revenue recognition criteria to determine accounting treatment. All of Pieris’ agreements with options have been determined to include substantive options.

Payments or reimbursements resulting from Pieris’ research and development efforts in multi-element arrangements, in which Pieris’ research and development efforts are considered deliverable, are recognized as the services are performed and are presented on a gross basis so long as there is persuasive evidence of an arrangement, the fee is fixed or determinable, and collection of the related receivable is reasonably assured. Amounts received prior to satisfying the above revenue recognition criteria are recorded as deferred revenue in the accompanying balance sheets.

Milestone Payments and Royalties

At the inception of each agreement that includes milestone payments, Pieris evaluates whether each milestone is substantive and at risk to both parties on the basis of the contingent nature of the milestone. This evaluation includes an assessment of whether: (a) the consideration is commensurate with either (1) the entity’s performance to achieve the milestone, or (2) the enhancement of the value of the delivered item(s) as a result of a specific outcome resulting from the entity’s performance to achieve the milestone, (b) the consideration relates solely to past performance and (c) the consideration is reasonable relative to all of the deliverables and payment terms within the arrangement. Pieris evaluates factors such as the scientific, regulatory, commercial and other risks that must be overcome to achieve the respective milestone, the level of effort and investment required to achieve the respective milestone and whether the milestone consideration is reasonable relative to all deliverables and payment terms in the arrangement in making this assessment.

Pieris aggregates milestones into four categories: (i) research milestones, (ii) development milestones, (iii) commercial milestones and (iv) sales milestones. Research milestones are typically achieved upon reaching certain success criteria as defined in each agreement related to developing an Anticalin protein against the specified target. Development milestones are typically reached when a compound reaches a defined phase of clinical research or passes such phase, or upon gaining regulatory approvals. Commercial milestones are typically achieved when an approved pharmaceutical product reaches the status for commercial sale or certain defined levels of net sales by the licensee, such as when a product first achieves global sales or annual sales of a specified amount. Sales milestones are typically achieved when an approved pharmaceutical product exceed net sales as defined in each agreement.

For revenues from research, development, and sales milestone payments, if the milestones are deemed substantive and the milestone payments are nonrefundable, such amounts are recognized entirely upon successful accomplishment of the milestones. Milestones that are not considered substantive are accounted for as license payments and recognized on a straight-line basis over the period of performance. Revenues from commercial milestone payments are accounted for as royalties and are recorded as revenue upon achievement of the milestone, assuming all other revenue recognition criteria are met. Royalty payments are recognized in revenues based on the timing of royalty payments earned in accordance with the agreements, which typically is the period when the relevant sales occur, assuming all other revenue recognition criteria are met.