Reinvigorating European R&D innovation - Pharmaceutical Technology

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PharmTech Europe

Reinvigorating European R&D innovation

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe
Volume 22, Issue 3

A European strategic research agenda

In 2004, the EC organised an initial consultation of stakeholders in Brussels (Belgium) where the need for better information exchange between those involved in European R&D was identified. A preliminary list of research issues to be addressed was also agreed upon. Following this initial consultation, the EC and EFPIA organised a series of workshops to further define the IMI's Strategic Research Agenda. As such, the agenda has evolved to include recommendations for the entire R&D process, as well as additional areas such as pharmacovigilance. Targeting all of these areas for improvement is a highly ambitious exercise, but those behind the IMI believe that the collaborative approach is why the initiative stands to succeed where others have failed.

Table 1: The IMI Strategic Research Agenda.
To maintain control over work in these diverse fields, the Strategic Research Agenda has been organised around four strategic areas or 'four pillars' (Table 1). A total of 38 multidisciplinary recommendations, involving a combination of both new and traditional scientific approaches, have already been developed based around these four pillars.

Despite the fourpillar structure, those behind the IMI are anxious to avoid a "silo mentality" and have stressed the interrelationships between the different strategic areas. By coordinating the activities within each of the four pillars, the IMI hopes to create synergies from the new scientific knowledge gained. For example, Pillar IV, concerning education and training, is considered essential for the safety and efficacy pillars to be supported effectively.

The IMI has stated that all "foreground" research will be owned by the participants concerned and that they may access and commercialise the outputs. However, it does not want to restrict access to this work and will seek to make it available to third parties as appropriate ("under fair and reasonable terms"). Although bigger companies might be able to make use of the information generated from the IMI projects without necessarily being involved, they probably stand to gain more from participating. Collaboration would allow the bigger players to contribute to the scientific direction of the IMI projects, which would allow them to better determine how to use the information generated. This set up will probably be too enticing for the major companies to pass up on. Besides, if they don't participate then there is always a chance that their rivals will.


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