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Institute of Medicine (US). Extending the Spectrum of Precompetitive Collaboration in Oncology Research: Workshop Summary. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2010.

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Extending the Spectrum of Precompetitive Collaboration in Oncology Research: Workshop Summary.

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TYPES OF PRECOMPETITIVE COLLABORATIONS

Several different precompetitive collaboration types have been developed to date. Altshuler examined about 50 of these collaborations and classified them as to whether they have open or restricted participation and open or restricted outputs. They also vary according to their goals. Altshuler identified two broad collaboration goals: to build enabling platforms and to conduct research. These goals can be further subdivided by the four different types of outputs they produce, including

  • Development of standards and tools;
  • Generation and aggregation of data;
  • Knowledge creation; and
  • Product development.

Collaborations aimed at building enabling platforms focus on developing standards and tools or generating and aggregating data to achieve a necessary scale for research. Collaborations that conduct research seek to create new knowledge or to turn that knowledge into a product by accessing resources and capabilities across organizations.

Collaborations are more likely to have open participation, such as web-based contests open to anyone with a laptop, if novel perspectives are sought from diverse fields and the need for quantity of input outweighs the need for quality control of that input. In contrast, collaborations are more likely to have restricted participation if the opposite is true or if the cost of equipment (e.g., genetic sequencing equipment) needed to participate or other factors create barriers to entry.

Collaborations that enable open access to the outputs of the collaboration are those for which no one can directly profit from the outputs, and for which the problem tackled by the collaboration would benefit “from having many eyes on it,” said Altshuler. In contrast, collaborations with outputs closer to commercialization, especially those involving intellectual property, are likely to be more restricted, as are collaborations that require funding by participants, so as to avoid the free-rider problem.

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia is an example of a collaboration in which there are both open participation and open access to outputs. In contrast, with collaborative agreements between companies, such as the Merck–AstraZeneca collaboration to jointly develop a treatment from which only they will profit, there is highly restricted access to both participation and outputs.

Some collaborations have restricted participation, but open outputs, or vice-versa. An example of a collaboration with restricted participants, but open access to its outputs, is the Human Genome Project. This international government-sponsored consortium of laboratories was formed to sequence the human genome and map its genes. Outputs of this project are in the public domain. In contrast, prizes and contests are collaborations with open participation but restricted access to outputs, which are only used by the sponsors of the prize or contest.

Altshuler charted the four types of collaborations, according to how open access is to participation and outputs, along with the four main goals of collaborations, to define eight basic models of precompetitive collaborations (see Box 14).

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BOX 14

Models of Collaborative Relationships. Open-source initiatives Industry consortia for process innovation

The eight models of collaboration, also listed in Figure 6, include

FIGURE 6. (Facing page) The eight models of precompetitive collaboration, and examples of each, as analyzed by Altshuler: open-source initiatives, industry consortia for process innovation, discovery-enabling consortia, public–private consortia for knowledge creation, prizes, innovation incubators, industry complementors, and virtual pharma companies.

FIGURE 6

(Facing page) The eight models of precompetitive collaboration, and examples of each, as analyzed by Altshuler: open-source initiatives, industry consortia for process innovation, discovery-enabling consortia, public–private consortia for knowledge (more...)

  • Open-source initiatives, which mainly occur earlier in the research and development spectrum, have open access to both participation and outputs, and can have any of the four goals listed previously. Altshuler noted that it is possible to build a successful profit model based on such initiatives. Many successful businesses, for example, have been built using Linux’s open-source software.
  • Industry consortia for process innovation, which are consortia of industry members aimed at improving the noncompetitive aspects of the research and development process, including technology development. These consortia, including SEMATECH and C-Path, have restricted participation and can have both open or restricted outputs.
  • Discovery-enabling consortia, which are consortia of academia and/or academia plus industry where the goal is to provide a critical mass of data for innovation that cannot be achieved by the individual participants alone. By compiling these data warehouses, future research is enabled, but the warehouses themselves are not monetizable, Altshuler pointed out. Examples of discovery- enabling consortia include the Human Genome Project and CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). Discovery-enabling consortia have restricted participation; however, the outputs may either be open or restricted.
  • Public–private consortia for knowledge creation, which include the Biomarkers Consortium and the Innovative Medicines Initiative. Such partnerships provide industry and academia with the opportunity to work more closely together within a framework other than the traditional sponsored research relationship, Altshuler said. These partnerships are typified by restricted participation and open outputs. They have critical downstream value, even though they offer no immediate market potential.
  • Prizes, such as the Innocentive prize that Lakhani described previously (see section on synergy of cross-discipline/cross-institution collaborations). In this model, there is open participation, but restricted access to outputs, and the aim is to develop a product. Prizes can be given for small incremental, but critical, steps in research. Alternatively, prizes can also address big game-changing problems, such as the X PRIZE, which, for example, has been given for the innovative development of private spaceships. Because sponsors do not have to pay for failed efforts, prizes generally give a good return on the investment of prize money compared to in-house research and development, Altshuler pointed out, and the large prizes generate a tremendous amount of publicity and bring more potential innovators to the table.
  • Innovation incubators, which entail sponsored research that is brought in-house, such as Biogen’s Innovation Insourcing Initiative program described previously in the section on synergy of cross-discipline/cross-institution collaborations. These incubators can have restricted or open participation, but their outputs are restricted to the company that is doing the insourcing. These collaborations fill the gap between publicly sponsored research, which often is focused on basic research, and venture capital-funded research, which occurs at a much later stage in the research and development process. These collaborations reduce the risk for the sponsoring company, which can pick from projects already showing promise, and also benefit the sponsored investigator, who can tap the resources of an already established company, according to Altshuler.
  • Industry complementors are focused collaborations among a small number of competitors for mutual benefit, such as the Merck–AstraZeneca collaboration described in Box 5. These collaborations have both restricted participation and restricted access to outputs.
  • Virtual pharmaceutical companies, which are typically driven by foundations to develop drugs for their disease of interest. The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation pioneered these types of collaborations (see Box 15). The foundation funds the research and requires the immediate sharing of information generated from that research with fellow grantees. “They drive progress by forcing collaboration among their collaborators,” said Altshuler. These collaborations also have both restricted participation and restricted access to outputs, and because they are virtual, they enable founda tions to direct funding toward the best researchers, without being encumbered by the assets and history of a large pharmaceutical firm.
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BOX 15

Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) integrates and funds the research efforts of its participating institutions in order to achieve its mission to accelerate the development of novel and combination treatments (more...)

Copyright 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Bookshelf ID: NBK210028

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