The drug discovery business is going through tough times. Drug candidates aren't moving through the pharmaceutical industry's pipelines fast enough. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs struggle to get the funding they need to bring their new ideas to fruition. These issues are driving new alliances and partnerships between academic researchers, venture capitalists, and big pharma, but whether the new models will solve the problem was a question on the minds of many of the 15,000 attendees at this week's BIO International Convention in Boston.
The themes are familiar: venture capitalists are limiting their investments in biotech, in part because it's hard for fledgling life-science companies to go public, and although big pharma is desperate for innovative ideas and depends heavily on small biotechs for new drug candidates, these larger companies don't want to take on risky, early-stage projects. The new alliances, some of which involve direct collaborations between pharmaceutical companies and academics, are a response to what one panelist called this "crisis."