Critical Ingredients at the Outset of Collaboration

A number of critical ingredients need to be in place at the outset of R&D collaborations between smaller biotech/medtech companies or academic research groups (‘David’) with much larger multinational corporations (‘Goliath’). In this second instalment of our three-part series, we discuss how these ingredients greatly improve the chances of success in such collaborations.

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Hidden Reasons for Collaboration Failures

Continued industry-wide decline in R&D productivity has led to the tremendous growth of R&D externalisation in bioscience and health technology over the past decade. In particular, there has been a dramatic proliferation of “David-and-Goliath” collaborations between small companies or academic research groups (‘David’) with much larger multinational corporations (‘Goliath’). But can this ultimately reverse the productivity decline? In this article, the first of a three-part series, we describe (in addition to the usual scientific and marketplace challenges) some hidden reasons for R&D project failures in this sector. Unless the industry gets better at managing these less visible risk factors, the productivity gains from increased R&D externalisation could be rapidly eroded.

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Emergence and Evolution of R&D Alliance Management

As bioscience R&D collaborations have grown in volume and complexity over the last decade, so has widespread adoption of formal alliance management, especially by the larger companies. Yet despite the emergence of formal tools such as balanced scorecards and alliance health surveys, this approach has its limitations. As the nature of many collaborations shifts from outsourcing or intellectual property transfer to true innovation partnerships, formal alliance management needs to be supplemented by other informal ingredients to ensure successful outcomes.
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Why is Collaboration so hard in Networked R&D?

A recent article in Sloan Management Review on Organising R&D for the Future highlights the hot new trend for companies to organise their R&D by establishing satellite units that operate and collaborate as a network. But the article also points out that “the art of collaboration is one that many R&D organisations have yet to master”.

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