12:00 AM
 | 
Jan 25, 2016
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

Preclinical hunting ground

Why Pfizer established a dedicated group for preclinical investment

With a new dedicated preclinical investment initiative, Pfizer Inc. is hoping to more systematically evaluate and invest in the large number of opportunities that fall between its academic translational research collaborations and its venture arm.

Under the new initiative, known informally as Pfizer's R&D Innovate concept, Pfizer plans to make equity investments and incubate companies with platforms or assets it considers strategically important.

Pfizer already has groups dedicated to tapping into external innovation in very early and late-stage R&D. Since 2010, the pharma's Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI) have put labs, company scientists and drug discovery technologies near academic partners to support translational research.

Pfizer Venture Investments, which debuted in 2004, invests in companies that tend to be beyond their series A rounds.

Uwe Schoenbeck, who is CSO of external R&D innovation and SVP of worldwide R&D, told BioCentury that Pfizer identified a glut of investment opportunities for technologies on the cusp of a spinout or very recently spun out, which fell between the CTI and venture groups.

While Pfizer was already conducting deals in that space opportunistically, it wanted to improve its ability to find and execute them. Schoenbeck now leads a core team with members from R&D, BD and Pfizer Venture that began looking for early stage investments about a year ago and plans to scale up the effort by building a network of co-investors.

"We wanted to have a more dedicated effort and team to look for these partnerships and help implement them with expertise at this certain...

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