With pharmaceutical industry research budgets shrinking, large drug companies are instead looking to support early-stage biotechnology startups. Merck, Eli Lilly, and GlaxoSmithKline have all announced investments in such companies in recent months.
The multinational drug giants are moving to partner with venture-capital firms and nascent biotechnology companies in hopes of feeding their drug development pipelines. "We are going toward external innovation. We're dealing with more academics and biotechs than we ever have," said James Schaeffer, Merck Research Laboratories' director of West Coast licensing and external research, speaking at a BioVentures's C21 conference in California last week.