Two mega-trends are reshaping the global biomedical research landscape: (1) In the U.S. the largest benefactor of early-stage life science research dollars is the National Institutes of Health (NIH); NIH budgets began stagnating after 2003 and declining in 2010 (2) U.S. Big Pharma has been reducing their R&D budgets consistently over the past several years; this sluggishness is even more onerous when considering that U.S. Big Pharma R&D investment, at its peak, had accounted for an ~80% share of the global spend.

This new normal R&D climate is forcing all participants to become more entrepreneurial and has given rise to an acceleration of the Industry:Academic collaboration.

Perhaps one of the most interesting biomedical Industry:Academic collaborations under way is the circuitous and semi-stealth route being pursued by South San Francisco-based Calico Life Sciences. We previously spoke about the longevity newco here. Founded by former Genentech chief executive Arthur Levinson, Calico was initially infused with $500MM from Google and AbbVie, and has access to an additional $1 billion in dry powder that is readily available from the duo. While Google is simply being Google, pursuing “moonshots”, as co-founder Larry Page frames it, AbbVie’s role in the collaboration is to bring its horsepower to bear for clinical, manufacturing and commercialization efforts. But alas, just what is “it” that will be ushered from the development stage start-up and into the clinic and on to the market?




That part of the story takes us to Dallas, and requires a rewind back to 2010, when Clara Bioscience, an affiliate of 2M Companies, licensed the P7C3 program and other NAMPT modulators from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Fast-forward to today and we find that Clara/2M recently entered into an exclusive worldwide agreement with Calico, the now neurodegeneration company, in exchange for an unspecified up-front fee, milestones, and royalty payments.



It truly takes a village to catalyze the commercial translation of academic discovery. With traditional risk capital resources waning for both industry and university these cohorts have united to actuate a new rubric of entrepreneurship.

This new trend of collaboration is accelerating, as observed by these additional 1H14 alliance formations: Pfizer & GMEC (the Global Medical Excellence Cluster is composed of University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London and Oxford University); Daiichi Sankyo & Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute; Genzyme & the Cleveland Clinic; Bayer Healthcare & Peking University; Boehringer Ingelheim & Duke University; MedImmune & the University of California, San Francisco; AstraZeneca & Shenzhen University; and Google & Johns Hopkins University, to name a few.

The Industry:Academic Collaboration is also a trend that we write and tweet about often. Collective IP lives and thrives at the intersection of the collaborative process: contextualizing the earliest stage research, patenting, and funding activity, in order to help facilitate the translation of those discoveries into the marketplace.