Guest Blog: Leading the Way in R&D Innovation

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Today's guest blog comes from Jan Lundberg, Ph.D., executive vice president, science and technology and president, Lilly Research Laboratories

Increased collaboration and new business models are great drivers of innovation. Lilly has a long history of creating partnership models designed to bring innovation to the patients who are waiting. The value of this approach was realized more than 90 years ago when we collaborated with Dr. Frederick Banting and Charles Best, two academics at the University of Toronto, to make the first commercially-available insulin for patients with diabetes. At that time, the only known way to keep these patients from dying of excess blood sugar was to put them on a near-starvation diet.

Later, a collaborative research effort with Edward C. Taylor of Princeton University and Lilly yielded the discovery and development of a novel oncology medicine for the treatment of patients suffering with advanced nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer.

Lilly has designed, developed and participated in dozens and dozens of unique business models with the goal of complementing and supplementing our Lilly pipeline. Earlier today, at the Financial Times U.S. Healthcare and Life Sciences Conference 2013 in New York, I spoke about many of them.

The Capital Funds Portfolio, a concept created by Lilly in 2011 to access innovation beyond our company’s walls, manage risk and share reward, is one thriving example. The Capital Funds Portfolio comprises virtual companies financed by investment funds that acquire molecules for further development. The companies then determine the scope, manner of execution and organization (including Lilly’s Chorus) that will conduct the research from approximately one year before testing in humans to clinical proof-of-concept. Once proof of concept is achieved, the molecule is offered for sale to biopharmaceutical companies, including Lilly.

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At today’s conference, I was thrilled to announce that Lilly currently has seven Project Focused Companies or PFCs in The Capital Funds Portfolio, under the leadership of our vice president of global external research and development, Dr. Elaine Sullivan. This growth is expected to continue: we anticipate signing four more PFCs in 2013 and several more over the coming years. These PFCs span multiple therapeutic areas of great unmet medical need including diabetes and oncology. Many molecules in the portfolio are first in class and therefore represent a potential innovation in disease treatment.

Our philosophy of innovative R&D models involves custom approaches designed to leverage both external resources, scientific expertise and development capabilities along with Lilly capacity and capability to advance molecules and technologies that complement our Lilly pipeline. We know increased R&D collaboration and unique models will have a positive impact on development programs, risk sharing and cost of innovation. However, most importantly, they will increase speed and opportunities for innovative medicines to reach patients who are waiting.