Innovation Hanging in the Balance

In a recent blog, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Scholar John Raidt wrote about the patent and copyright clause in the Constitution. His moving description of our patent system demonstrated its capacity to encourage innovation and, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, add “the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.”


According to Raidt, our system requires a delicate balance between competition and collaboration, and research and intellectual property. I agree that we must maintain these balances, but these components can also go hand-in-hand. By focusing on how these elements work together we can continue to lay the framework for an innovation ecosystem.

The innovation ecosystemshaped by the policies, institutions, and fundingdrives the pharmaceutical industry’s ability to develop new medicines. Ultimately, each component of the ecosystem relies on collaboration. Lilly’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communications, Bart Peterson, highlighted this idea during his keynote at Research!America’s National Health Research Forum back in September. Bart explained that the best model for this public-private sector partnership relies on leadership and funding from the public sector, followed by the collaborative support of the private sector.

Public-private partnerships leverage the unique capabilities of both the private and public sector. Lilly’s partnership with the National Institutes of Health National Center for Translational Science (NCATS) provides a great example of how public and private institutes can share benefits from working together. Public research institutions like the National Institutes of Health help fund basic research that informs development of drugs in the private sector. The private sector builds upon this research and drives further innovation through market competition.

Lilly embraces public-private partnerships because these collaborative efforts hold the key to bringing the best possible outcomes for patients. However, without the incentives that patent protection brings to the private industry, the balance that makes collaboration possible becomes askew. Only by maintaining a balanced innovation ecosystem can we create the best possible chance of bringing patients the new treatments and cures that build a healthier tomorrow.