Home » Life sciences » Forming alliances and partnerships to advance the life science industry

Elaine Daly

Life Sciences Industry Lead, Grant Thornton Ireland

Amy Flynn

Life Sciences Industry Lead, Grant Thornton US

How will new collaborations evolve within the life sciences industry and what will the next decade of the sector look like?

The life sciences industry is currently facing extensive challenges including regulatory changes, greater global competition, growing pricing pressure and the additional complexities of entering new markets. To assist in overcoming these challenges, the value of effective alliances and partnerships holds increasing importance.

Industry consolidation via M&A has been the traditional pathway for organisations in enhancing technical knowledge, expanding R&D pipelines and growing product portfolios. However, the forging of partnerships is proving to be an increasingly attractive alternative, as organisations seek to boost productivity, leverage data and tap into new sources of innovation. In doing this, organisations not only benefit from the expertise of other industry players but also from reduced capital expenditure, minimised risk and fewer regulatory hurdles.

Innovative partnerships

New partnerships are paving the way for innovation and accelerated development. Among life sciences companies, centres for drug discovery have proven to be popular strategic partners. Academic partnerships are a viable alternative in lieu of acquiring intellectual property outright.

Partnerships with technology companies are also helping to bridge the gap of R&D IT. These partnerships enable life science companies to access critical technical capabilities whilst forgoing the cost implications of developing the resources in-house. Notable examples include Apple and Google partnering with life science companies to develop technology resources.

What does the next decade look like?

The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred cross-collaboration between rivals and highlighted the growing need for agility within the life sciences sector over the coming decade. Increasing agility to meet the challenges of the future can be realised via alliances and partnerships, which will form the basis of an integrated healthcare ecosystem. Arising synergies will not only drive innovation and investment, but also improve efficiency via resource sharing and the distribution of costs, risks and benefits among stakeholders. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred cross-collaboration between rivals and highlighted the growing need for agility within the life sciences sector over the coming decade.

Regarding key growth areas, science-tech partnerships will unlock new value and drive patient-centric innovations in real world data, precision medicine and the application of AI and machine learning in diagnostics and treatment.

For example, a recent partnership between University College Dublin and IBM Research has led to the creation of a ground-breaking cancer prediction algorithm and motion tracker software. Leveraging AI, cameras and specialised dye, surgeons will have greater precision in the identification and surgical removal of cancerous tissues. The discovery will enable real-time diagnosis, the provision of personalised patient intervention and most importantly, improved patient outcomes.

Such examples of collaboration among stakeholders in life sciences, tech and academia will see healthcare evolve from a one-size-fits-all approach to a model focused on prediction, prevention and personalised treatment. Amidst emerging health trends, the need for alliances and partnerships in research and innovation has never been greater.

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