Despite entrenched differences between academia and the industrial sector, business models partnering universities and commercial entities to conduct preclinical drug-discovery team science are increasingly prevalent as attempts to boost and de-risk therapeutics invention. This dichotomy invites consideration of three high-level contextual elements that can help such trans-constituency alliances actualize their potential: an enabling operational profile as strategic roadmap; milestones supporting project progress and inviting improvement; and a critical mass of capable, engaged academic and industrial co-participants working across institutional boundaries and sharing risks and rewards. These elements bring many (in)tangible and often underappreciated benefits to a research-driven public-private discovery collaboration, e.g., underscoring its translational nature; acknowledging the important roles of vigilant self-evaluation and change; setting trust and quality expectations; establishing lines of communication and accountability; inviting knowledge cross-pollination; and avoiding project compromise by cross- purpose activities and personal/institutional self-interests. Although the inherently unpredictable nature of scientific progress and the heterogeneity of university-industry discovery collaborations preclude a universal success formula, pragmatic enablers discussed can help such alliances between academia and pharma/biotech traverse the rugged terrain at the science-business interface.
David R Janero