What’s in a partner? The essential facets of a strong biopharma collaboration

Published: 12-Oct-2023

Partnerships are an essential aspect of biopharmaceutical manufacturing, enabling the industry to create therapeutics for patients that meet the fundamental criteria of safety, efficacy and quality, reports  Dr Michael LaBarre, Chief Technical Officer at Halozyme

A strong partnership is mutually beneficial and allows the involved parties to exchange or combine technology, information and skills.

With decades of experience derived from navigating pharmaceutical coformulation relationships, it’s become clear that there are key characteristics that define a productive collaboration between companies. In this article, we’ll look at three of the most critical components of a successful biopharma partnership.

Key factor one: flexibility and adaptability

Partnerships require a “meeting of the minds” between two companies, each with a unique internal culture and set of processes.

Underlying any quality partnership is the ability to be flexible and adaptive — despite ingrained procedural and structural standards. Differences between partners can quickly become strengths when there is a willingness to adapt and trust.

Particularly critical is the flexibility and trust necessary to delegate responsibility to drive a project forward. Each partner in a collaboration is likely to be skilled, driven and capable, but clear role allocation can directly benefit the product. 

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Drug coformulation partnerships are a perfect case study. Combining two drug products requires individual teams to align, learn each other’s products, navigate complex regulatory landscapes and overcome the challenges that inevitably appear along the way.

Without flexibility on both sides, the partnership can consume unnecessary time and resources. By contrast, a flexible, adaptive partnership can lead to improved processes and standards that expedite progress. 

Key factor two: complementary expertise

A good partner brings its own insights and experience to the table … and seeking a complementary associate can only strengthen a collaboration. In particular, partnerships between companies with unique but compatible expertise can be a significant advantage.

What’s in a partner? The essential facets of a strong biopharma collaboration

Larger, more established companies — particularly those that partner regularly — provide aggregated experience, expanded resources and more established networks.

Smaller and younger companies, meanwhile, may be more agile, offer niche skills or have access to different resources. Every collaboration is an opportunity for both companies to learn and expand their respective skill sets. In this way, expertise benefits both sides of the partnership.

In the biopharmaceutical space, the benefit of experience is apparent when navigating the complicated regulatory and clinical trial requirements that predicate bringing a drug to market.

Learning the ins and outs of regulatory processes and putting the appropriate foundations in place takes significant resources, but companies that have invested those resources can carry their knowledge forward into productive partnerships.

Acquiring access to this knowledge in a co-operative environment can, in turn, save time and money while enhancing the less experienced company’s institutional knowledge.

Key factor three: focus on big-picture objectives

Although the scope and technicalities of pharmaceutical partnerships are clearly defined from the beginning, a focused discussion and creative brainstorming of common goals can turn a strategic collaboration into a meaningful partnership.

In the drug delivery and coformulation space, alignment can deepen a partnership beyond just creating a single new product. They can help two companies to go beyond the status quo as they address industry gaps and develop unique and efficient solutions for patient needs.

It is clear that there are still plenty of pioneering ideas to be harnessed in biopharma, but innovation may be slow when companies move forward without an intentional goal.

It’s exciting to imagine how focused partnerships can lead to groundbreaking new therapies that directly impact patients through improved access, ease of treatment and potential efficacy. 


Biopharmaceutical collaborations are more than a meeting of technologies. They serve as an opportunity for companies to expand and enhance their processes and institutional knowledge.

High quality partners are flexible, knowledgeable and focused, delivering more than just an innovative technology. Although partnerships take time and energy from both sides to nurture, their potential to address gaps in the industry is immense.

With intentional, meaningful partnerships, the industry can create therapies that change the treatment landscape for patients in need. 

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