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We are part of an industry that is lauded for producing innovative therapies that change patients’ lives. It is an industry that has fostered incredible scientific development, producing drugs to treat a range of conditions from heart failure and thrombosis to multiple cancer treatments.
We want to continue developing innovative treatments as efficiently as possible so we value collaboration with likeminded partners who share our quest to provide new options for patients. Here are some of the reasons why we partner:
To bring new treatments to patients quicker than before
We will do whatever it takes to deliver solutions to patients. For us, innovation isn’t limited to the next major breakthrough therapy – we also celebrate the seemingly smaller successes because we know there are patients waiting for new ways in which they can live better. Partnering gives us the chance to establish scientific relationships across indications to foster scientific progress and benefits for patients. Our ultimate goal is always to provide more options for patients as fast and efficiently as possible.
To extend our existing knowledge and expertise
We are proud of our in-house expertise and we have scores of people who work hard to find new solutions to some of healthcare’s most challenging problems. However, we cannot possibly claim to know everything. We welcome different forms of collaboration: from traditional licensing agreements or strategic alliances to public-private partnerships, consortia or open innovation models. By complementing our internal capabilities with the know-how of exceptional partners, we have access to a vast pool of expertise that we can tap into to improve research and development of new medicines.
To speed up innovation
We want to take advantage of the latest trends so we are flexible when it comes to how we foster medical innovation. New models of collaboration have emerged and are rapidly increasing in number. These new alliances are broad; they involve entire departments and even entire institutions. By finding new and creative approaches to build upon and harness such knowledge, we can speed up the time it takes to research and development innovative medicines.
To maintain connections to the global scientific community
We are geographically flexible - that means that we go where the science is. We have five Innovation Centers in some of the most vibrant cities across the world so we can maintain our local scientific networks and are looking for new collaborations all the time.
Different ways of partnering
Why do we do it?
We don’t collaborate simply to enhance our geographic or commercial footprint, but to pool expertise and portfolios. Sharing know-how can accelerate the research and development process and ensure that we bring drugs to patients faster than before.
What are the results?
Bayer has dedicated departments that identify promising technologies and assets from other companies that have a strong potential for successful innovation. These late stage collaborations focus on compounds in Phase I studies and beyond.
One such example is our collaboration with Orion Corporation, which was established in 2014 to develop a drug candidate for the treatment of prostate cancer. The product has been successfully brought to market in the first indication of non-metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, while additional clinical trials are currently ongoing in other disease stages. The global partnership with Orion is an excellent example of capitalizing on the expertise of two partners to accelerate the development of promising oncology treatment options.
We also partner with companies at an earlier development stage. For example, since 2012, Bayer has been in collaboration with Evotec, an external innovation drug discovery and development company. The partnership began with the research and development of new treatment options for the neglected disease of endometriosis. In 2016, we have also entered into a partnership to research and develop drugs for the treatment of kidney diseases, and in 2019 for the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome.
Why do we do it?
The number of collaborations between industry and academia or consortia is increasing rapidly. Such alliances are broad and contribute to entire therapeutic areas, not only single compounds, and often last for years.
What are the results?
Bayer now has over 30 collaborations with academic institutions. One such example is our work together with the renowned Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, one of the leading global research institutes in biomedicine. The partnership began in 2013 with a focus on finding new ways to tackle cancer. In 2015, we began a new collaboration focusing on heart and blood (cardiovascular) diseases which uses insights from human genetics to help create new therapies. In 2018, we opened a joint precision cardiology laboratory to further our combined research of new ways to treat patients with cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure.
We also partner with consortia such as the Structural Genomics Consortium and are very active in the Innovative Medicines Initiative. These collaborations do not necessarily target the development of specific drugs, but rather investigate new research methods.
We have played an active role in the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) participating in 40 projects, including:
- The CANCER-ID project aims to develop new and less invasive ways of examining cancer cells and genetic material from tumors by analyzing blood samples for clues to what treatment is needed and how well drugs are working.
- We are part of IMI’s Big Data for Better Outcomes (BD4BO) program which generates knowledge, data and methodologies needed to support the transition towards more outcome-focused, sustainable healthcare systems in Europe.
- IMI’s EUPATI project developed patient engagement program that includes an in-depth training course, online toolbox, and national platforms which has boosted patient empowerment in Europe and beyond.
By improving the way we conduct our R&D activities, we make sure that developing drugs for our patients is carried out as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Why we do it?
Bayer has established “Innovation Centers” in close proximity to leading academic institutions worldwide. By decreasing the practice of maintaining internal, traditional R&D infrastructures and by increasing external collaboration through these centers, academic and company scientists can combine their expertise to solve R&D challenges. We hope that these centers will become a hub of scientific excellence and innovation, integrating internal and external expertise. In short, by remaining an active member of the scientific community and its various networks, we can share and gain knowledge that helps us in our R&D activities.
What are the results?
We have innovation centers in various locations around the world, including Japan. Established in 2014 in Osaka, the task of the Innovation Center Japan (ICJ) is to find research cooperation projects throughout the country. The projects usually focus on diseases of considerable unmet medical need and help to advance the development of innovative treatments.
Bayer has also set up “CoLaborators” which offer young life-sciences companies the opportunity to open their research laboratories either on the campuses of, or in close proximity to, the pharmaceuticals division of Bayer.
Each CoLaborator follows an incubator concept which offers laboratory space alongside access to the company’s research expertise and infrastructure as well as a first point of contact in the search for partnering options in the pharmaceutical industry.
1 National Cancer Institute, NCI Dictionary of Terms, Phase I, last accessed September 2018