How Open Innovation Can Accelerate Drug Discovery

By Gabriella Anesio

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In the realm of pharmaceuticals, the process of drug discovery and development has traditionally been a lengthy and expensive endeavor. It typically involves years of research, extensive clinical trials, and steep costs. However, with the introduction of Open Innovation, the landscape of drug discovery is undergoing a transformation, promising to accelerate the development of life-saving medications. The question remains: how exactly is Open Innovation revolutionizing drug discovery?

Open Innovation: A Paradigm Shift

Open Innovation is a collaborative approach that emphasizes sharing ideas, resources, and knowledge across organizational, geographical, and industry boundaries. In the context of drug discovery, it involves collaboration between pharmaceutical companies and a plethora of external sources, such as research institutions, universities, start-ups, and a global crowd of problem-solvers. This departure from the traditional closed innovation model is breathing new life into the pharmaceutical industry.

Diverse Expertise and Resources

One of the most significant advantages of Open Innovation in drug discovery is access to diverse expertise and resources. In-house R&D teams within pharmaceutical companies are undoubtedly knowledgeable, but they may be limited in their scope and routine ways of operating. By partnering with external organizations, experts, and problem-solvers from an array of fields, companies can tap into a broader range of ideas and approaches.

For example, one of Wazoku’s customers, GSK, found great success in leveraging external resources through a Challenge run with Wazoku to discover state-of-the-art research, as a force multiplier to the company’s existing team. With 397 engaged Solvers and 66 proposed solutions, GSK discovered a solution that had not been flagged during its own preparatory research.

Accelerated Research and Development

Speed is of the essence in drug discovery, especially when lives are at stake. Open Innovation facilitates faster research and development by streamlining processes. Collaborative efforts can lead to the pooling of data, resources, and knowledge, reducing redundancy and inefficiency.

Explaining this well, Munos, a pharmaceutical innovation researcher, states the following:

“In fact, it is not a stretch to imagine that, in the not-so-distant future, much of drug discovery will be crowdsourced. It is a more efficient model to explore disease space and identify opportunities than the inflexible programs of many large companies, which are driven by the needs of their marketing franchises with scant consideration to what science can deliver.”

Leveraging New Technologies

The pace of technological advancement in science and medicine is hard to keep up with. Open Innovation allows pharmaceutical companies to stay at the forefront of innovation by partnering with organizations and problem-solvers that have extensive knowledge in cutting-edge technologies.

For instance, artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming invaluable tools in drug discovery. By collaborating with AI experts, pharmaceutical companies can leverage these technologies to analyze vast datasets, identify potential drug candidates, and predict their efficacy – all at an unprecedented speed and scale.

To give another example of Wazoku’s experience in this field, AstraZeneca used the global Wazoku Crowd to look for a novel platform technology to facilitate the selective delivery of short chain oligonucleotides – an emerging treatment option for various diseases. With 50 submissions from all over the world, AstraZeneca ran a follow-on Challenge to transform theoretical concepts into practical solutions

Open Innovation is reshaping the landscape of drug discovery by fostering collaboration, accelerating research, and providing access to the newest technologies. Open Innovation offers a cost-effective and efficient approach to drug development through collaboration and collective intelligence.

As pharmaceutical companies increasingly embrace this approach, we can expect to see more rapid progress in the discovery and development of drugs. With Open Innovation, the journey from laboratory discovery to patient treatment may become shorter, more efficient, and ultimately more effective in improving human health.

If you want to learn more about how Wazoku can help your organization navigate this space of Open Innovation, check out our new Nexus Challenges or discover more about the global Wazoku Crowd of problem-solvers right here.

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By Gabriella Anesio

Gabriella is a Marketing Associate at Wazoku. She’s a massive fan of any and all music (except country music...) - you’ll never catch her without her headphones.