Injecting New Blood into the Life Sciences Innovation Process

Innovation and collaboration are the lifeblood of the life sciences. Without them, both research and business come to a standstill.

Knowing this, how do pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies get the blood pumping, communicate their position to the marketplace as well as manage opportunities for collaboration effectively? With many companies trying to develop research collaborations and new partnerships to help fill the new drug candidate pipeline, the critical challenge for their global R&D teams is to identify the collaboration opportunities that will deliver the greatest long-term value.

In recent discussions with heads of business development, alliance management, corporate strategy and innovation at many large bio-pharmaceutical companies, I have seen an increased industry interest in early stage collaborations, although, in a number of cases, questions remain about the best way to manage such partnerships. In this article, I discuss how companies can overcome some common obstacles to effective collaboration and innovation management.

Clearly communicate areas of interest and goals
Pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies interested in collaborating with academia and other businesses need to effectively message their strategy up front. At a minimum, therapeutic areas of interest should be clearly defined and stages of development where one is willing to consider collaboration should be identified. For example, if companies are open to considering white space concepts,then it is important this is clearly communicated to their prospective partners.

Once word gets out, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies should be prepared to receive an influx of requests from parties looking for research funding. They should also have ready and available on their websites, a section clearly explaining the parameters and details of how their early stage collaboration program work sfor those looking for research funding. This will help head-off many questions, and, if the website can also serve as a platform for accepting proposals, that will save further time and resources. The following are a couple of excellent examples of web portals that help attract partners and also allow intake of information related to a potential collaboration:

Explain the value behind collaborating
By identifying and articulating the value proposition of the collaboration offered, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies can quickly develop a highly-targeted concept to reach the right audience and motivate them to act. Whether it is offering access to a bank of clinical compounds for clinical and translational research, or providing preclinical compounds which researchers can utilize, everyone should be aware of all opportunities available.

The same applies for companies giving a monetary reward or access to their expertise and experience to help potentially move a promising compound or biologic along the path of drug discovery. Communication is essential for successful collaboration among all parties. Academic research funding sources are limited, but the potential partnership opportunities a company can bring to the table are equally as valuable as pure monetary funding. Those seeking funding are probably also seeking to collaborate with those who can help them advance their science.

Tell the world about it
“If you build it, they will come” does not necessarily hold true in the crowded and highly competitive world of industry and academic collaborations. What’s also required is a strategic communications plan, outlining the best ways in which to utilize digital marketing, public relations, and advertising to attract prospects.

An ideal and comprehensive approach to early stage partnering means defining clear goals and targets, then quickly setting a solid strategy for reaching a target audience in academia and other research institutes to create opportunities for collaboration. These opportunities must be targeted, attracted and acquired using smart and highly-specific marketing tactics designed and implemented with the knowledge and experience of what works and what doesn’t work in the life sciences. It is also important to have a sure-fire and highly-targeted marketing effort that drives the right opportunities into the system.

Develop a dependable evaluation and tracking process
However valuable outside partnerships are, implementing and successfully managing them is a difficult process, and has introduced a variety of new business and technology challenges on the road to a healthier world:

  • Opportunity management – How does your business successfully evaluate the sheer volume of potential partnerships and opportunities in a timely fashion?
  • Process management – How does your business create and sustain a “best-practices” approach? What processes does your company have in place for managing the numerous activities and people involved in opportunity scouting, evaluating, investing and tracking?
  • Risk management – How does your business manage the legalities, compliance, contamination risk and trust issues involved with partner submissions and ensuing internal review activities?

Utilize technology
To execute an effective innovation and collaboration program, it is essential to have Innovation Management Software that uses the right technology and best practices to cultivate an innovation pipeline, target strategic early-stage opportunities, and forge effective and mutually beneficial alliances. This type of sophisticated program can be accomplished only with a secure and easy-to-use platform that enables users to seek, evaluate, invest in, track and manage opportunities for collaboration.

World health depends on the pragmatic research, development, discovery and commercialization of new drugs and treatments. However, developing such products is an extremely lengthy and expensive investment. That’s why, for many pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, early collaboration with outside R&D partners has become a critical component to helping meet global healthcare needs.

Early stage research collaborations allow even the largest pharma companies to expand their portfolios and address new markets by collaborating with a multitude of smaller, highly-innovative research teams located across the globe. Partnerships also provide strategic value by compressing new product timelines that typically last 12 years or more, injecting new blood to get the innovation process pumping faster.


Author: Scott Shaunessy

Author Img

As Founder and CEO of ideaPoint, Scott Shaunessy has over 20 years of experience as an executive in both Business-to-Business and Consumer-facing businesses and is an expert in best practices for Business Development and Licensing, Venture Investing, Acquisition and R&D Collaboration processes in the Pharmaceutical, Medical Device, Biotech, Nutrition, Healthcare and Consumer Products industries. Before his management career, Scott spent eight years as a professional hockey player in the National Hockey League and American Hockey League.

Company: ideaPoint

ideaPoint, an Anaqua Company, provides software solutions to help global Pharmaceutical, Biotech and Medical Device companies better exploit their innovation potential and drive business growth. The software enables organizations to collaborate, invest-in, manage and track partnerships with other companies, academic researchers and research institutes.In November, the company announced the launch of ideaPoint 5.0, which enables organizations to accelerate the speed and efficiency of evaluating, tracking, and managing innovation and identifying and capitalizing on opportunities for partnerships and collaborations, whether internal or external. For more information about ideaPoint, visit

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