Innovation in practice: how we form partnerships in pharma

The Novartis Business Development and Licensing team is behind many of the partnerships that fuel our innovation.
Feb 10, 2016
  • The work of our Business Development and Licensing (BD&L) team illustrates how we’re driving collaborative partnerships.

  • BD&L team members are embedded within each group at Novartis to gain an understanding of our latest research and development efforts, and paths to commercialization.

  • Our commitment to innovate for patients is at the core of our work, and our innovation is fueled by a collaborative spirit.

At Novartis, innovation is driven by our spirit of collaboration. As Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

When we work together, both with internal teams and external organizations, we’re able to deliver on our commitment to innovate for patients. The work of our Business Development and Licensing (BD&L) team illustrates how we’re driving collaborative partnerships at Novartis.

The team behind some of our most notable partnerships

BD&L is a unique group at Novartis that serves as a conduit, bringing external innovation into our organization in the form of business partnerships. The ultimate goal of the relationships developed with outside organizations is to get the right treatments to the right patients at the right time. We recognize that to achieve this, we sometimes need a little help from our friends within the industry.

Partnerships in pharma: a two-way street

BD&L team members are embedded within each group at Novartis to gain an understanding of our latest research and development efforts, and paths to commercialization. Their close involvement gives them a bird’s-eye view of operations, so they’re tuned into what’s needed to discover and develop high-quality, innovative treatments that help people live longer and better lives. By understanding current needs, they are able to seek the right kind of partners outside Novartis.

In the past year, we have formed a record number of partnerships with other companies. In neuroscience, we entered into an agreement with GlaxoSmithKline to acquire all remaining rights to ofatumumab, a potentially important new treatment option for people living with multiple sclerosis. We also formed a global partnership with Amgen in the areas of Alzheimer’s disease and migraine to co-develop and co-commercialize the Novartis BACE inhibitor and Amgen’s Phase III migraine compound. In addition, we entered into a framework agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for post-proof-of-concept development of KAE609, which has the potential to treat, prevent, and block transmission of malaria. Most recently, we entered into a partnership with Qualcomm Life to develop a digital inhaler for people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which seamlessly transmits usage data to a mobile app for patients and physicians to easily access.

Novartis is proactively looking for companies to not only partner with, but to also team up with to continue work outside our specialties. For example, our research and development team may determine that it doesn’t make sense – for a variety of reasons – to continue developing a particular treatment. Instead of discarding our potentially lifesaving work, we transfer it to another company so they can build on our foundation and continue to invest in bringing the right treatment to the right patient at the right time.

Our recent work with Mereo BioPharma Group Ltd., a UK-based biotech company, is a great example of this; we exchanged clinical assets for equity in the company. This particular partnership was developed to help bring needed treatments to people living with brittle bone syndrome and COPD.

Our commitment to innovate for patients is at the core of our work, and our innovation is fueled by a collaborative spirit. If “working together is success,” hopefully many of these collaborations, spearheaded by the BD&L team, will lead to success for patients.