At HMA we’re building an Open Innovation approach to our collaborative partnerships. To date these have particularly focused on our digital healthcare activities and our collaboration with the Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH) at the University of Sheffield.

As a result, we were interested to hear from the experts at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst’s ‘Open Innovation Summit 2015: How Far Have We Come?’ on 29 January 2015.

Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC) is the UK’s first Open Innovation (OI) bioscience campus. Situated adjacent to pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, it means that small and start-up bioscience companies located there have access to great facilities and expertise on site which can accelerate their development and ability to secure funding.

Here are five things that we learnt or found most interesting.

The OI ecosystem is changing – we need to get ready for the crowd and for the unusual suspects. By way of example, speaker Clare O’Neill of Original Ventures talked about the crowd-funding of a project close to her heart, that of Peek Retina. Another crowd-based project we’ve been interested in hearing about at HMA is ‘Be My Eyes’. We think the impact of the crowd will only get stronger.

Have you heard the term Outcubation? It’s a concept that’s been developed in Heidelberg, Germany, where crowdsourcing, open innovation, and incubation are combined to stimulate biopharmaceutical development. This article in Merck Group’s online magazine explains the background. And here is the related Nature article if you have a subscription.

Pharma companies are coming together with charities and knowledge transfer companies to form consortia to tackle the big disease challenges. For example, MRC Technology has catalysed the formation of the Neurodegeneration Medicines Acceleration Programme to help develop new treatments for the over 50 million people affected by neurodegenerative diseases worldwide. SBC is playing its part in this particular disease area, by running an open innovation challenge with MIMIT (Manchester: Integrating Medicine and Innovative Technology), and the winners were celebrated at the event.

Another example of a consortia focused on life sciences and healthcare, is the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) which has brought together 8 NHS Trusts and 8 university medical schools and other partners to work together in the North of England. The CE Dr Hakim Yadi gave a great account of the steps taken to set up the Alliance.

A connecting theme was ‘scientific intermingling’. Mike Snowden, VP of Discovery Sciences, Astra Zeneca talked about the need for mixing people together to promote innovation, John Cooper, Projects Director of the Francis Crick Institute, highlighted the big opportunity in combining technologies together in convergent medical technology, and later a panel speaker mentioned “It’s about convergence, not just about bioscience”. In other words, innovation comes from both people chemistry and technical chemistry. Certainly on our digital healthcare projects, we find that mixing skills, expertise and technology has been very beneficial.

Last but not least, Barcelona Science Park gave some great tips on forming multi-partner collaborations:

The 5 ‘W’s:

  1. Who participates?
  2. What is project about?
  3. When do you need to submit a proposal?
  4. Where do you meet to plan it?
  5. Why do you choose this topic?

And 5 more:

  1. How will you carry out the project?
  2. How much money is needed?
  3. Who else is doing it/competitors?
  4. Who will coordinate and lead?
  5. How will you carry out the project?

Good luck with yours!

Event website: