Innovation and Funding Models

Small and medium sized companies need greater access to collaborative research initiatives in Europe, and this is where Public Private Partnerships become so relevant. The Innovative Medicines Initiative, IMI, is a real life example of such open collaboration effort, that is starting to bear fruit and a new path for innovation in the EU.

IMI is the world’s largest public-private partnership in health with a total budget of €2 billion – €1 billion each from the European Union and the pharmaceutical industry through EFPIA. IMI brings together various stakeholders, including different pharmaceutical companies, to pool their resources and knowledge in a collaborative effort to address some of our most pressing and complex health issues. Set up in 2008 (until 2013), IMI is today overseeing some 40 projects, dealing with issues from superbugs to cancer and the projects implemented by the initiative are already delivering results.

In 2014, IMI2 was launched, building on the success of the initial program, with funding extended to a total budget of € 3.276 billion over ten years. The EU will contribute up to €1.638 billion of this from Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation framework programme from 2014 to 2020. EFPIA, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, will commit €1.425 billion in in kind contributions. In addition, other life science industries and organisations may contribute a further €213 million if they decide to join IMI 2 as members or as partners in individual projects.

IMI projects see the pharmaceutical industry working together with universities, hospitals, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), patient organisations and public authorities; including regulatory bodies. Current projects cover a wide spectrum of challenges covering early to late stages of medicines development; from biomarkers for vaccine safety to understanding chronic pain and developing anti-tuberculosis drug combinations. To date, IMI projects have produced 320 publications – over one-third of which have been published during 2012 – appearing in more than 150 journals including Nature, JAMA and, more recently, Science.

By sharing data, pooling resources and exchanging expertise together, IMI’s aim is to tackle bottlenecks in drug development and confront areas of healthcare needs that are of high priority to society, while improving the drug development process through more efficient discovery and developing better and safer medicines for patients.

Learn more about IMIwww.imi-europa.eu
Current Calls for Project: 9th Call http://www.imi.europa.eu/content/future-topics
European Framework Programme 7 http://ec.europa.eu/research/health/index_en.html  IMI2: https://www.imi.europa.eu/content/imi-2
Horizon2020: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/

Despite such important funding of research, access to finance remains a constant issue for innovative SMEs in Biopharma. In 2015, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) asked Charles River Associates (CRA) to investigate the extent to which there are barriers to the growth of biopharmaceutical companies in Europe and the extent to which companies of different sizes face different challenges in raising capital to fund research and development (R&D).

Although there is a large amount of literature on the competitiveness and growth of micro, and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe, particularly those investing in early stage research, there has been little focus to date on how companies grow and whether similar challenges exist for innovative firms of a larger size, which are engaged in the far more costly later stages of product development. The CRA report is available here, and was considered in the development of an EBE Position Paper on the funding of the European biotech ecosystem (available here).