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
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.
Table 1: The IMI Strategic Research Agenda.
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.