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The past decade has seen intensified research collaboration between pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions. Although such partnerships are recognized as a source of innovation and a key pillar to advance science in drug discovery, they are replete with challenges. Despite much anecdotal evidence and debate, fact-based evidence on the nature of these challenges and how to manage them is scarce. Here, we present results from a systematic analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from the portfolio of academic collaborations at a major pharmaceutical company, Novartis, which illuminate the challenges associated with industry–academia collaborations. We also offer advice on how to make such collaborations more effective.
A.S., D.E. and H.W. are employees and shareholders of Novartis. G.K. is a former employee and current shareholder of Novartis. Novartis covered travel and data transcription expenses for the authors from ETH Zurich.