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by: Bart Hens

Pharhens_photomaceutical companies are collaborating with other companies, but they have many times failed to provide open access to data and resource sharing. This level of data protection and conservative approach to data management limits innovation. Moreover, it is not in line with the approach of academic institutions, where data sharing plays a major role. Scientists in the private sector must learn how to create a collaborative environment that helps young scientists develop into the innovators the pharmaceutical industry seeks. New, open business models (i.e., data sharing, globalization, transparency, etc.) support the concept of open innovation, but they require a new mindset from the people who operate in them.

Companies such as Proctor & Gamble, Lilly, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Alynlam, and Pfizer are using these models to become more innovative, resulting in product success rate of more than 50% and an increase of research and development (R&D) efficiency of more than 60% by making their technologies, expertise, and company compounds more openly available. As part of this, young scientists (e.g., Ph.D. students and postdoc researchers) can be the key to success to support partnerships among different industrial and academic institutions leading to successful projects and a step forward in pharmaceutical sciences.

  • Network with the right people that will contribute positively to your project: who are the right people to select to make this project a success?
  • Create a logical and non-difficult workplan to make sure you will have a successful project from the beginning.
  • Identify the key components of a truly collaborative environment that you should look for in your product: what is the expertise of each company and how can they contribute to the project?
  • Know and avoid the pitfalls of collaborative environments
  • Schedule frequent meetings to discuss and exchange data in order to organize the next steps of the project.
  • Pay attention to training of young scientists who will help you to mind the gap between collaborations among industrial and academic partners.
  • Focus on fundamental knowledge during the research project as also an added value of the outcome of the project afterwards (i.e. applications for industry partners).

To learn more about the new business models of collaboration, attend the session “Prepare Your Team to Collaborate in the Industry’s New Business Models” at the 2016 AAPS Annual Meeting in Denver. This session will highlight key strategies employed by OrBiTo and Pearrl to create an environment that values and exploits a fuller, more powerful approach to collaboration. You’ll leave this session able to begin work on an OrBiTo or Pearrl-like project of your own.


[1]        S. Wu-Pong, J. Gobburu, S. O’Barr, K. Shah, J. Huber, and D. Weiner, “The Future of the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Graduate Education: Recommendations from the AACP Graduate Education Special Interest Group,” Am. J. Pharm. Educ., vol. 77, no. 4, May 2013.

[2]        J. Hunter and S. Stephens, “Is open innovation the way forward for big pharma?,” Nat. Rev. Drug Discov., vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 87–88, Feb. 2010.

Bart Hens initiated his Ph.D. at the lab Drug Delivery and Disposition (KU Leuven, Belgium) and contributed to the European IMI project OrBiTo. He focused on intraluminal drug profiling of poorly soluble compounds after oral administration to humans. He will continue his work as a Post-doctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan in January 2017 and be working with Prof. Gordon Amidon, Ph.D.