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High Tech, Biopharma, and Academia: The Three-Legged Stool of Many of Today’s Collaborations

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, September 8, 2016

Cross-industry partnering is on the rise, and a sturdy three-legged stool is fast becoming fundamental furniture in the world of collaboration. The hot topic of collaboration between high tech, biopharma, and academia is on stage Sept. 8 at the ASAP 2016 BioPharma Conference “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed” being held at the Revere Hotel, Boston Common, Boston. In this session, three panelists from diverse backgrounds discuss the trend of “Cross-Industry Partnerships: Managing Alliances between Biopharma and High-Tech Partners”: Chaitanya K. Dahagam, MD, global partner innovation executive at IBM Watson Health, who has managed collaborations for IBM; Rachel Sha, transactions lead, business development & licensing, at Sanofi, who has managed a collaboration with Google; Juliana Leung, director, strategic alliances, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, who has overseen collaborations with Intel, Google, and IBM. I spoke with session moderator Prakash Purohit, managing partner at Raaya Biopharma Consulting, about the thrust of the panel discussion. 

What is the focus of the panel discussions?

They are giving their perspective on how they approached different issues or aspects of cross-industry alliances, how they resolved their questions and concerns, and their approaches in doing so. They describe the metrics and tools they used to resolve these issues. For example, if you take an alliance between high tech and academic institutions, some of the challenges that might crop up are the alignment of goals. Each institution may have their own set of goals for innovation, licensing, fund raising, and publications. So how do they align these goals, especially with high tech, because they are looking to bring to market in the short term, and how will they manage those alliances? We will discuss IBM’s collaborations with healthcare and biopharma: What kinds of challenges did they find in these alliances with various entities, such as clinicians, patients, technical personnel, and consumers? 

Why is this topic of such interest now in biopharma?

This is a brand new session. Recently there has been a recognition of the benefits of developing these alliances for these industries, because they provide clinicians, patients, and doctors with new tools for managing data and genomic data. Considerable growth in the amount of that data has necessitated building cross-industry partnerships in healthcare and biopharma with companies such as IBM, Google, Oracle, and Microsoft. And because today’s data is digital, high tech companies are developing new tools for data analysis for the healthcare industry. 

Where does academia fit in?

We did an ASAP Webinar in May to address the challenges of academia and biopharma alliances. One reason collaborations with academia are happening more frequently is that the tremendous amount of growth of data through genomic or clinical research has become a daunting challenge for both academia and hospitals. High tech is continuously evolving with new software programs, technology, etc. Those collaborations tend to be short because of the dynamics and changes. Biopharma and bioresearch tend to be long-term collaborations because understanding the mechanisms or functions is complicated. It takes time to understand how processes happen. Human trials tend to take place over a long period, some eight to 10 years to go to market. Academic research can happen in a few years of collaboration or it can involve clinical trials with long processes and numerous stagesoften with government funding. That is another way academic institutions come into the picture. They might be involved in a screening process that can be used to create new sets of molecules. Industry partners can then test a number of compounds using that tool for screening purposes. They can determine what works and provide the results to the biopharma industry. 

Tags:  alliances  analytical tools  biopharma  Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard  Chaitanya Dahagam  collaborations  cross-industry alliances  Google  healthcare  IBM  IBM Watson  Juianna Leung  managing data  Microsoft  Oracle  Prakash Purohit  Rachel Sha  Sanofi 

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