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I recently attended the World Open Innovation Forum 2013 in Amsterdam, organized by Fleming Europe. The event was attended by senior executives, business leaders, university administrators, and more. The topic of the conference was the increasing use of open innovation (OI) business models in the pharmaceutical industry.
There were a number of very interesting presentations from both sides of the industry-academia partnership business model. It was possible to summarize a few key points. First, the pharmaceutical and biotech industries have now embraced (mostly) the OI business model. Most have platforms in place to capitalize on more open partnership models. Most of the speakers from industry pointed to the main benefits of OI, from their point of view. These include: sharing the risk (and the reward) in developing novel drug targets, leveraging the expertise of thought leaders from academia, and quickly developing new programs in interesting therapeutic areas. Some of the drawbacks of the OI model are that: it is difficult or nearly impossible to measure the success or failure of these OI initiatives, there are sometimes contentious issues with regard to IP and ownership, and the clash of cultures between industry and academia can challenge even the best intentioned public-private partnership.
The speakers also had similar views on best practices for developing and maintaining productive public-private partnerships. First. it is important that an organization have support for OI initiatives from the very top. Unless organisations buy into the benefits of OI, the OI initiatives can be difficult or impossible to sustain. Second, both partners (industry and academia) need to know what they want out of the partnership; and, they need to develop a framework to address needs of both stakeholders. Third, both parties should be realistic and flexible. There is no one-size-fits-all template for OI - every industry-academia partnership is different. At the same time, universities need to be aware of the realities of the needs of industry, and vice versa.
Perhaps the most important take-home message is that these partnerships need to be nurtured and developed - they don’t simply happen, and they can wither from inattention and poor management. At CDR, we appreciate this message, and we are acting on it. My main role is to help industrial partners to understand what we and the Faculty of Pharmacy (and the University of Helsinki more broadly) can offer them in terms of partnership. Then, to help develop and nurture innovative partnerships that do form - with needs of BOTH industrial and academic partners in mind.
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The European Federation for Pharmaceutical Sciences (EUFEPS) has awarded its first ever Distinguished Service Award to professor Arto Urtti, Professor in the Centre for Drug Research. Dr. Urtti was awarded for providing exceptional and valuable professional service to EUFEPS, and for demonstrating initiative and dedication in these roles. For 10 years, Professor Urtti served as editor-in-chief of the European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, the official journal of EUFEPS. Professor Urtti received this distinguished honor at the 5th World Conference on Drug Absorption, Transport and Delivery (WCDATD): Responding to Challenging Situations. Professor Urtti currently serves as Professor in CDR, where his interests include nanotechnology and drug delivery research, especially related difficult targets like eye and tumors. Nanotechnology and drug delivery research is an active area within CDR. Within this field; we develop innovative technologies in: ocular drug delivery and ADME, nanocarriers/biomaterials and drug delivery, complex organotypic cell models, and transdermal drug delivery.

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