IDBS Blog | 11th March 2015

Externalization: Maximizing R&D Opportunities While Minimizing IP and Data Security Risks

This month AstraZeneca announced a move towards externalizing its business model and working with partners in a bid to reduce research and development (R&D) spend. It’s a sign of the times, as the pharma and biotech industries find themselves under significant budget and speed-to-market pressures more and more. But, as organizations open themselves up to the outside world, is someone keeping tabs on all this collaborative data?

They should be! With organizations like Boehringer Ingelheim renewing its tech collaboration with CRO, VTU Technology and Aduro Biotech heralding success with its Janssen Biotech partnership, it’s clear that externalization is the new landscape for innovation and, once these models are in place across pharma and biotech organizations, significant thought must be given to the valuable data being generated.

Data insight

Data – both structured and unstructured – is the foundation on which these working partnerships are built and managed. With multiple parties in play, it is essential that information moving between organizations is easily shareable and that it can be incorporated smoothly into existing ELN systems. Scientists need to be able to rely on the integrity of the data they are receiving, with context enough to maximize its potential.

IP protection

Sharing data outside of the organization demands a reliable, transparent infrastructure. IP retention is problematic in most industries, as employees move on or retire, and patent expiration is inevitable. The need to capture data in a meaningful way so it can be effectively searched and reused – without re-work – is critical and almost a prerequisite. Many organizations are now using ELNs as a means of record keeping but most do not cope with the structured data too well.

Information security

Furthermore, security is, understandably, also a top priority in this collaborative and externalized marketplace. As organizations increasingly look to cloud and SaaS solutions, multiple layers of defence – like that of an onion, rather than the shell of an egg – are a must. The importance of educating users in this area shouldn’t be underestimated, to help mitigate risk as data moves between organizations and across regions.

The collaborative stage is set as organizations are now turning to external partners, seeking enhanced productivity and reduced operational costs. As they do, data must remain front of mind to drive R&D innovation and give organizations the competitive edge needed in today’s environment.

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