Anders Ekblom; AstraZeneca, exploring Open Innovation




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Video title: Anders Ekblom; AstraZeneca, exploring Open Innovation
Released on: November 05, 2012. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, filmed at BioPartnering Future Europe in Brussels, Fintan Walton talks to Anders Ekblom, Global Head Science and Technology Integration Office at AstraZeneca
Anders Ekblom's perspective: Open innovation in the context of pharma and biotech industry
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at BioPartnering Future Europe, in Brussels. On this show I have Anders Ekblom, who is Global Head of Science and Technology Integration Office at AstraZeneca, welcome to the show.
Anders Ekblom:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton:
Anders, you are here at this conference, and you've been just given a talk actually on open innovation, obviously you are associated with research and development at AstraZeneca, what does open innovation really mean in the context of pharmaceutical and biotech industry?
Anders Ekblom:
I think it's almost like a buzzword now chasing it's definition and I think if you talk to 10 people they would say 10 difference sort of, would have 10 different definitions on what open innovation is. I believe from a pharma perspective going down the route of pre-competitive collaboration would be sort of my term that sort of comes closest to it, but you can see some alliances which are more non-profit and where you have people just you know coming in like Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation working with others that become more true open innovation, but I think from a pharma perspective very much precompetitive collaboration, and there are some examples now coming forward which I think you know shows that that's more true.
Anders Ekblom's views on Open innovation vs Patent innovation
Fintan Walton:
So one perspective of that is that open innovation means that there is no particular ownership on any of the intellectual property assets that are derived from that research and development, now obviously the industry runs on the basis of intellectual property and patent rights, so what's the position, the just opposition between open innovation and then the patent innovation?
Anders Ekblom:
And I think, I mean that's exactly the spot. I think people have been using it in a careless way and you have to recognize what's the business model for the various companies, and you would argue that most innovation driven companies at some point have an IP protected asset, because you have made an innovation and you are then rewarded by society for that one, you get your IP. So I think precompetitive collaboration, open innovation becomes where do I do not compete and so if let's say we are not competing in, for example having biomarkers, I'd rather sort of have the biomarkers used by everyone, regulators accepting them and science recognize, because we are not competing with the biomarker, we are competing with a compound or the unique way you use that compound which means we could collaborate in the space of biomarkers, but we would still compete then sort of with, or rather not compete there but we would compete in the space of the compound that we have produced or the antibody whatever you have.
Fintan Walton:
Some people might think well isn't this another way in which pharma companies are trying to get something for nothing?
Anders Ekblom:
No, because if you collaborate in an open innovation or precompetitive collaboration you have to collaborate with something, which means that you go in with your assets, but whatever it comes out will be shared by the ones who collaborate or with societies in general. So for example we just started a precompetitive collaboration with the Karolinska Institute, in Stockholm, Sweden, where basically we have a group positioned within the university, they work with the university scientists and whatever comes out in certain biomarkers will be published, free for everyone, we put our scientists in, they put their scientists in we do something together, we share.
Fintan Walton:
Right, so the open innovation sits obviously in the very early stages of research?
Anders Ekblom:
Not necessarily.
Fintan Walton:
Okay.
Anders Ekblom:
It could be sort of in any area, and then I think you know the example of TransCelerate BioPharma [PharmaDeals ID = 48776] inaugurated recently says you can be in clinical development, which is you know would normally would also be very late, which says clinical development early, mid-stage, or late, still we share and we collaborate.
Fintan Walton:
So open innovation sits around those areas that enable research and development to happen efficiently within the pharmaceutical industry?
Anders Ekblom:
Yes, I think that's a good definition. I mean that's where you see most of it right now, I think going forward you could anticipate people starting developing technologies together or sharing up, you know we have a shared problem we need to solve. So then you go in from a totally open collaboration to perhaps 10 companies having a problem they need to solve, they could then share that IP together. So I can see anything going from like it's only mine, I share it with 10, I share it with everyone and then you going to have a sort of a sliding scale in between depending on what the topics are early, mid-stage, or late.
TransCelerate collaboration: Pharma companies working together on issues related to clinical development
Fintan Walton:
So just looking at the TransCelerate [PharmaDeals ID = 48776] model for an example that is where, quite a number, I think 10 pharmaceutical companies including AstraZeneca get together to try and look at some of the issues that relate to clinical development in particular, how can 10 pharmaceutical companies work together? I mean that, you are talking about collaboration; this is collaboration on a quite massive and complex scale?
Anders Ekblom:
Yes, but what I think sort of is, is nice that this came out to be the discussion between the 10 companies. The heads of R&D were sitting around the table, so they are all engaged, they were engaged at the top which I think is an important aspect of this, you know it's anchored within the companies. And actually you say we have a couple of platforms we need to sort out as an industry, it is going to help us go faster, get the drugs out faster, it's going to be more cost effective, fix out the cost problem as well, you sit around the table and then you say lets then start a non-profit company who is going to be the vehicle for this, and I think that's the beauty. So everyone sort of put their money in, you put people in kind in, then you organize that in work streams, and I think if something that the industry is good at is organizing and then driving projects to a certain milestone and delivering something.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Anders Ekblom:
If you take a comparison in Europe, Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), actually that is coming out of the all the organizations through FP the European Federation for pharmaceutical companies, and academia, and the commission wants it to be managed through the industry. We are sort of in the driver seat, why? Because we know what we need and we are good in driving things, so I am not so pessimistic, actually I am pretty positive about TransCelerate.
Role of traditional biotech companies(Venture capital backed) in open innovation space
Fintan Walton:
Right,okay. So just, so we've mentioned universities been involved, you mentioned big pharma companies getting involved, from a biotech perspective, a company which, obviously little biotech companies are left with limited resources, is there a play for biotech companies which are venture capital backed, to play in the open innovation space because obviously the VC's are trying to protect their interests in the intellectual property that is generated within that, within those companies, so do you see, where do you see biotech fitting in, traditional biotech type companies playing in open innovation?
Anders Ekblom:
I mean, I think they fit all over. Actually in TransCelerate we are discussing now, sort of how we can invite also smaller companies. I mean it started with 10 big and we have like tier 1, tier 2, and associate companies, I am sort of together with Gary Neil that you've talked about too, he is the Chairman of the Membership Committee, I am in the Vice Chair now, we have started it. So I think there is a recognition that how can you broaden that to more, because smaller companies have smaller resources, but they can also be more focused. I would argue lot of small biotech companies are very clever in how they get funding from European Commission, or NIH, and others by working in partnership. So I don't think it's necessarily depending whether you are small or big, I think it's more like the big collaborations of course easier for big companies to go into but the whole plot is to make it available, because you don't compete in that field and it's, I almost feel like the small companies are sometimes more innovative than the large ones, I am not so worried for them. And if you look into IMI, the whole plot is to have large companies, industry in general, academia, and then SMEs, and SMEs are you know when you look into their different programs they are protected, but of course it's tough if you like, a company of 10 versus you know biotech of fifty or hundred, but still you know I think it's like, it's perhaps their time they can get much more now than they could before.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. Well Anders, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Anders Ekblom:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Anders Ekblom
Global Head
At the time of this PTV news interview Anders Ekblom serves as Global Head Science and Technology Integration Office at AstraZeneca. Dr Anders Ekblom leads the Science and Technology Integration Office at AstraZeneca, which aims to identify future science and technology trends and strengthen efforts in precompetitive collaboration and open innovation. He most recently led the Global Medicines Development organization and joined Astra in 1993 from the Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, where he was a senior lecturer and Director for the Perianesthetic Unit. He is President AstraZeneca Sweden AB, and Director of the board of Albireo Ltd. He is an Associate Professor of Physiology at the Karolinska Institutet, a medical doctor board certified in Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, and a doctor of dental surgery. He has long been active in both basic and clinical research resulting in more than 60 original publications in peer reviewed journals and book chapters.
PharmaVentures
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
AstraZeneca
AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a primary focus on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines for gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology and infectious disease. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.