Collaboration opens up innovation…

31st May 2012

…and the odd can of worms!

There can be little doubt that the future for the pharma and R&D industries lies in open collaboration and innovation. And countless establishments are revising their IT strategies to take this into account to benefit from advances.

Innovation takes ideas and turns them into products that people want. Capturing data, turning it into information and sharing it with others in a collaborative network is the life-blood of innovation. Without that process innovation simply won’t happen. Properly managed, scalable and fully secure information systems are a necessary feature of all collaborative environments.

Externalized R&D can take innovation to a new level. Discrete collaborations right up to multi-party collaborations are increasingly looking to pre-competitive and open innovation models.

These changes offer amazing opportunities. Open collaboration offers an almost limitless way to access the best brains in the world. That changes everything. But it can make the structure of many organizations far more complex than before. For multi-party international organizations these collaborations have to be carefully managed.

Who created what?

The key challenge in open and pre-competitive innovation is to know precisely where the intellectual property is generated. This isn’t helped by new challenges in information management – how scientists communicate. They have to establish mutual trust and be sure of the scientific capabilities of all parties.

Large organizations all want efficiency and innovation. But these can be two contrasting goals – efficiency often lacks the flexibility needed to embrace innovation. That’s why open collaboration offers such huge benefits to large R&D companies. It lets them tap into the innovation of small, agile, flexible companies, while keeping efficiency and control of all the intellectual property assets that are generated. To put it simply, it’s a must for R&D organizations that want to grow and keep ahead of the times.

It’s all about data access

Good internal IT makes data and process interoperable across R&D organizations from basic research to manufacturing and QA. But that same approach can be externalized to discrete or multi-party collaborations, contract collaborations and then open collaborations. Ensuring that the flow of data is uninterrupted means that researchers can work with documentation that is easily searched, with the information they need, in real time at the point of use.

I believe that collaboration in all its myriad forms has a bright future providing that all relationships are properly managed on a person-to-person basis.

Only by getting that right will collaboration fully deliver on its promise of revealing new science and exciting new understanding.