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Tuesday, 15th March 2011

All together now: Improving cross-sector collaboration in the UK biomedical industry

From the Executive Summary:

A strong history in pharmaceuticals and chemicals, combined with world-leading university research, has created a significant competitive advantage for the UK biomedical sciences industry. This industry is important to the UK economy, accounting for 9 per cent of exports and 28 per cent of business R&D spending. It is an industry where the UK is objectively one of the world leaders, but our role is not secure. As Pfizer announces the closure of its UK R&D facility, the only one outside of the US, it is clear that our historic advantages will not be enough to sustain the UK’s position in the future. As pharmaceutical companies change their R&D strategies to a new, more outsourced model, and other countries improve their scientific infrastructure, we need to change to keep up. However, there is an opportunity to raise our game by building better connections between the assets we already have.

Many reports have examined this industry, but we believe that this is the first attempt to examine its competitiveness in terms of collaboration. The UK has significant assets in the NHS, research universities, large medical charities, pharmaceutical companies, and clusters of smaller companies. This report demonstrates that these assets deliver more by being better connected. Collaboration allows a better use of resources, avoiding duplication and improving access to specialist facilities and expertise. Most importantly, collaboration improves the capacity for innovation, whichis critical at a time when the industry’s R&D productivity rates continue to fall and pharma increasingly looks to external partners for its drug discovery. This report primarily examines academic-industry collaborations, but also looks at the connections to smaller companies, clinicians and charities.

This report presents new data on the impact of collaborative working, showing that biomedical academic papers that are co-published with industry have greater citation impact than purely academic papers. This finding held true across all the countries we examined.

+ Direct link to document (PDF; 1.7 MB)



Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »

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