The Innovative Medicines Initiative: a partnering machine that has transformed the biomedical ecosystem in Europe (Guest blog)
Many people wish Europe’s research funds matched those in other parts of the world. However, money isn’t everything, and if we look at the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), we can be proud of what has been achieved in a relatively short time. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are challenging to create, develop and maintain and indeed the European PPP model has not been replicated at scale elsewhere. Why? In my view, it’s because of the European Union, and the culture of collaboration in the EU which is by nature cross border, cross institutional and cross disciplinary.
At IMI, we have established a neutral platform where the relevant actors can collaborate, co-create and accelerate research and innovation, whether that be in dementia, diabetes, infectious diseases, cancer, etc.
Today, we are a true partnering machine, where large pharmaceutical companies, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), patients, regulators, academics and clinicians as well as companies from other health-related sectors are achieving remarkable results through ‘radical collaboration’, a term coined by former Commissioner Carlos Moedas.
For example, thanks in large part to our Ebola+ programme, an Ebola vaccine has now been authorised for use by the European Commission and several rapid diagnostic kits are in field trials in Africa. A new antimicrobial from our ENABLE project is in clinical trials.
We are also embracing other industrial sectors. Our VALUE-Dx project on rapid diagnostics for antimicrobial resistance was designed by the diagnostic industry, proving that the IMI platform can indeed be used by industries outside the pharmaceutical industry.
In the digital field, our RADAR–CNS project has created an IT platform to capture remote monitoring data from smart phones or wearables from people with a range of diseases. We have also launched projects on artificial intelligence and blockchain technology.
Meanwhile we continue to tackle some of the biggest challenges in medicine, such as the use of medicines during pregnancy and breastfeeding. There is a massive public health need in this area, but how does society create a trustworthy platform to advance this field? This is yet another topic where a PPP is the only way to go, and in 2019 IMI launched the ConcePTION project to do just this.
Looking beyond these results, IMI’s added value is demonstrated by the 32 Associated Partners and 20 EFPIA Partners in Research who have chosen to co-invest their own resources in IMI.
It is also visible in the new networks and ways of working that endure beyond the end of our projects.
As we look to the future, it is clear that a European PPP in health, that brings together patients, researchers, and diverse industry sectors, has the potential to build on IMI’s achievements and help address the many remaining challenges in health research.
The Innovative Medicines Initiative is a partnership between the European Union and EFPIA. Find out more at www.imi.europa.eu, and follow us on Twitter @IMI_JU.