Sön 14 aug / År 40 / Nr 3 2022

Pharmaceutical development benefits from pre-competitive collaboration

The future spells collaboration for AstraZeneca. As an integrated biopharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca has the appropriate networks and resources required to lead the global development of new innovative medicines. After strengthening one of its largest sites for research and development in Mölndal, Sweden, the company is looking to deepen the collaborative relationships with academic and industrial partners world-wide.

At AstraZeneca, the common belief is that collaboration is the key promoter to achieve a successful delivery of new medicines in an increasingly complex world of research. “We are a development and innovation-driven company with a broad range of original pharmaceuticals that we offer the global market. With our own research and development sites in the United States, England, Sweden, Japan, India and China we have a strategic network of collaborative units reaching the entire world”, says Anders Ekblom, President of AstraZeneca Sweden AB.

Connecting industrial expertise with academic research
Collaboration with the academic world is essential for all pharmaceutical companies. When AstraZeneca historically established its Swedish development sites in Mölndal, Lund and Södertälje just outside of Stockholm, the close proximity to leading universities was one of the major reasons for choosing these particular locations.
Despite the country’s modest size, Sweden has a lot of well-established research in the broad field of life science. “We focus our research and development activities to a limited number of disease areas for each site”, Anders Ekblom continues. “In Mölndal for example, we have a long tradition of research on cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory and rheumatic diseases. In Manchester, England, we have world-leading expertise in the area of oncology”.
AstraZeneca connects the company’s expertise with academic research and thus forms strong global partnerships. “Together we are able to achieve what we could not otherwise accomplish. Last year, for example, we initiated a translational science unit at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. Here, researchers collaborate in open laboratories, forming an environment which now leads us on to our ambition to create environments for Open Innovation”.

Open Innovation is the future
“I usually say that Open Innovation is made possible through pre-competitive collaboration. We can collaborate and keep transparency on things that are not unique to us, such as basic research that everyone needs and must have access to anyway. Biomarkers and how they work is an example of knowledge that in itself is not unique. What is unique is the development of drugs based on innovations derived from the use of certain biomarkers”, Anders Ekblom explains.
Anders Ekblom underlines that AstraZeneca receives return on investment by patenting its own business ideas. That aspect of competition will not change. What AstraZeneca seeks to develop further is pre-competitive collaboration on a global basis.