Summit Preview: Like Wine and Cheese, Academia and Private Industry Makes for a Natural Pairing

Posted By: Jon Lavietes Global Alliance Summit, Member Resources,

Innovation comes from many places, and private-sector companies are increasingly finding it at institutions of higher learning, whose advanced research represents a deep well of potential for breakthrough discoveries. We have covered industry-academia partnerships in the past and present (see “Across the Multiverse,” Strategic Alliance Quarterly, Q3 2020), and we will do it in the near future as well at the 2023 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, where attendees will be treated to a panel discussion between alliance management professionals from Big Pharma, academia, and healthcare.

The session, “We Can Work It Out: Perspectives on Successfully Enabling Industry-Academia Partnerships,” will cover the “unique aspects to academic-industry partnering,” said Jason Felsch, CSAP, PhD, senior director of alliance management at Atomwise, who will be moderating the discussion. The panelists will divulge “how to structure those partnerships in an optimal way and how to coach participants on both sides of those partnerships to have collaborative leadership skills that really bring the best of the partnership forward.” 

Felsch will be joined by:

  • Seema Basu, PhD, strategic innovation leader and executive at Mass General Brigham Innovation, who oversees strategic corporate R&D alliances for drug and device development, commercialization, and innovation.
  • Bill Kubasek, director of strategic alliances at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, a collaborative research organization dedicated to accelerating biomedical research and improving human health.
  • Stefan Walke, CA-AM, PhD, head of alliance management at Boehringer Ingelheim, who has spent nearly 18 years at the family-owned, research-driven biopharmaceutical company that is working on breakthrough therapies.

Expanding the Sweet Spot

Like the majority of academia-pharma partnerships, these panelists engage largely with alliances that tackle early-stage, preclinical drug discovery efforts and early clinical trials—“discovery through phase one, that would be the sweet spot,” noted Felsch. However, the panel will have relevance to non–life sciences audiences as well.

“Software is among the areas of expertise in academic research settings,” said Felsch, who cited Artificial Intelligence software as an example of an industry segment that is seeing increasing collaboration between research universities and private companies. “We’re hoping to keep the discussion relevant for folks who may not be in the healthcare field.”

In the runup to last year’s ASAP BioPharma Conference, Brooke Paige, CSAP, digital alliance leader at Novartis Pharmaceuticals and former ASAP board chair, warned the alliance management community that “if we are not managing digital alliances today, we almost certainly will be tomorrow.” Some might say the same of industry-academia partnerships.  

“It’s definitely part of our modern practice in the healthcare industry overall,” noted Felsch, who added that both sides have plenty to gain—and to learn—from each other. Academia needs a partner to take drug candidates all the way to clinical trials, while industry needs to continue to expand its network of sources for new research. “That pairing is a natural one.”

There are still seats available for the 2023 ASAP Global Alliance Summit. Register today to see "We Can Work It Out: Perspectives on Successfully Enabling Industry-Academia Partnerships" and two dozen other keynotes, panels, master classes, and presentations.