A Model for Collaboration
Dr Will Barton, OBE, a former VP of Manufacturing & Technology in the chemical industry, head of manufacturing at the Technology Strategy Board – now Innovate UK – and now chairman / non-executive director of four early stage, novel technology companies was the independent advisor to the ReMediES Project
ReMediES was one of the early examples of the Pharma industry working together in collaborative R&D, something it didn’t have a record of doing before. The project, even in its early stages, started to show the value of such collaboration, that you don’t have to share your crown jewels and that there are a lot of non-competitive or pre-competitive areas where companies can work together if they choose to, which can benefit the whole UK pharmaceutical industry.
The UK Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI) was about getting exciting new SME technologies into larger companies, helping to embed the supply chain in the United Kingdom, where often we had broken supply chains. It also sought to create a vibrant and growing SME base from the world class technologies developed in our universities.
At about the same time as ReMediES started, I was telling senior pharmaceutical people about how they should consider following the example of the automotive and aerospace industries, which had got themselves together in organisations like the Automotive Council and Aerospace Growth partnership – each co-chaired by a government minister, developed a broad, cross industry strategy and identified work they could do together. They were then able to approach government with proposals for co-funding to de-risk some of the higher risk initiatives proposed. Soon after the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) was formed and the impact of that collaboration across the industry is beginning to show with something like £190 million of grant funding on offer to the Pharma sector, including the recent announcement of the new Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC). Things have come a long way.
ReMediES showed the benefit of having a really senior industry figure, Clive, leading the project, working alongside the IfM, already highly regarded by the industry, doing the facilitation and delivering one of the work packages.
Some of the projects within ReMediES were completed and will commercialise. Others moved their innovations up a couple of technology readiness levels and will still need more work before they can deliver into industry.
I would be delighted to see a ReMediES continue in some form, to build on the considerable momentum that the partners have managed to generate. I also think the MMIC will provide an ideal platform to take forward some of the projects.
ReMediES was a well-run project that will deliver some early wins for the SMEs and longer-term impacts across the board. It was really exciting seeing teams deliver great results. Things happened that nobody would have believed possible at the start. I have been working in early-stage companies since 2005, when I left the ‘big’ side of the industry and I get a real buzz out of the seeing novel technologies successfully commercialised. This was happening in ReMediES!