Taking a Cue from Google – Collaboration Drives Innovation in the Life Sciences

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Google is known for its research. This is a company that boldly researches projects like self-driving cars, Google Glass and bringing internet to rural areas using balloons. But, there’s one key point that is often overlooked - Google doesn’t do it alone. To create breakthrough innovations and get them to market, Google partners. It systematically looks for and finds the partners that will complement its strengths. That’s especially true for Google’s ventures into the life sciences. And if Google, a company that has $60 billion to play with, is actively looking for partners then there must be some compelling reasons why. Read on to learn more.

Google and its Pharma Partners

Google is tackling a lot of big health challenges, but it is not doing it alone. Just take a look at some of Google’s most recent life sciences endeavors and partners.

Biogen Idec

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease. For years, researchers have struggled to understand why the disease progresses differently in different patients. That’s why Google is teaming up with Biogen Idec to solve the mysteries behind multiple sclerosis. How did the partnership come about? Biogen Idec CEO George Scangos ran into Andrew Conrad, head of Google X’s Life Sciences division, at a digital health conference. It quickly became clear that there was an opportunity to collaborate, combining Google’s data analytics and technology expertise with Biogen Idec’s deep knowledge about multiple sclerosis. Together, using sensors, software and data analysis tools, the companies will collect and sift through data from people with the disease. By working together, the two companies capitalize on their unique areas of expertise to unlock answers.


Alcon, Novartis’ subsidiary specializing in eye care, has also found a reason to partner with Google, this time to develop smart lens technology. Novartis is hoping to use the technology to enable people suffering from diabetes to measure their blood sugar levels using contact lenses, a method that would be much easier and painless than anything else on the market. Check out what Alcon has to say about the partnership:

"Alcon and Google have a deep and common passion for innovation," said Jeff George, Division Head of Alcon. "By combining Alcon's leadership in eye care and expertise in contact lenses and intraocular lenses with Google's innovative "smart lens" technology and groundbreaking speed in research, we aim to unlock a new frontier to jointly address the unmet medical needs of millions of eye care patients around the world."

Essentially, Alcon has found the right partner with whom it can pioneer new, breakthrough treatments.


Last, but not certainly not least, AbbVie is partnering with Calico, the Google-founded  research and development company whose mission is to help people live longer, by slowing ageing and age-related diseases. Together, Abbvie and Calico will invest up to $1.5 billion to, “discover, develop and bring to market new therapies for patients with age-related diseases, including for neurodegeneration and cancer.” Like Google’s other partnerships, the motivation is the same – combine the strengths of both companies in order to create and bring to market innovative new treatments. In the press release announcing the partnership, Michael Severino, M.D., Executive Vice President, Research and Development, and Chief Scientific Officer, AbbVie, said, "Our broad R&D experience and capabilities will complement Calico's biotechnology expertise and innovative scientific approaches. Together, we are confident that we will bring new therapeutic solutions to patients."

Finding the right partner to develop innovative treatments

While we still don’t know what the outcome of these projects will be, one thing is clear – partnering is a key way to accelerate development on innovative treatments and get them to market. By finding the right partner, Google is able to quickly get the expertise they need to make their ‘moonshots’ become a reality. Partnering also provides flexibility – allowing Google to quickly access the resources they need, rather than spending time developing the resources internally. The experience of Google is not unique. To find innovative solutions to the complicated challenges facing the world today, partnering is critical. That’s why at Inova, we’ve developed a partnering platform designed for the life sciences. It helps biotechs, pharmas, generics, medtechs, academia and CMO/CRO identify and engage with the right partners in order to pioneer new treatments.