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Biopharmaceutical initiative

Designing more effective business models for creating important new medicines.

Our mission

To improve the discovery and development of new medicines by identifying optimal structures and processes for data-driven, capital efficient, and objective decision-making.

The challenge

The biopharmaceutical industry has delivered remarkable advances in some of the most intractable diseases, including many forms of cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and HIV. At the same time, those accomplishments have often been extremely costly to achieve. For many patients, medical breakthroughs have been life-saving, but they have rarely been cost-saving. As a result, access to novel medicines has been increasingly expensive, which has been a challenge for health systems around the world.

A joint global strategic initiative between Cambridge Judge Business School and Apollo Therapeutics.

The vision

The record setting development time of the COVID-19 vaccines taught us that many of the assumptions we have had about the drug development process are not necessarily set in stone. Our vision is to uncover business models, organisational structures, and decision-making processes that enable a more efficient drug discovery and development process.

Our research has demonstrated how decentralised R&D structures, such as the large collection of small biotech companies, have been more effective and cost-efficient in generating novel medicines than the centralised and hierarchical structures found in many large, well-established companies. We aim to further understand the implications of those findings for individual organisations, both small and large, in terms of optimal R&D portfolio strategies, innovative partnering models that go beyond traditional licensing agreements, and effective interactions with the broader biopharma ecosystem, including universities, entrepreneurs, the capital markets, regulatory agencies, and contract research organisations.

Key Insights and Publications

Learn more about our research and our new book on the biotechnology industry

Read A Covid-19 Manhattan Project?

Initiative leads

Don Drakeman

Fellow of CCHLE and Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Notre Dame

Richard Mason

Fellow of CCHLE and CEO of Apollo Therapeutics

Nektarios (Aris) Oraiopoulos

Professor of Operations & Technology Management, Cambridge Judge Business School

Aris’ interests lie in the area of new product development and R&D management, and particularly in collaborative settings such as joint projects between pharmaceuticals and bio-tech companies. Such projects are characterised by their highly uncertain nature and substantial costs, and therefore, mechanisms for managing risk and rewarding risk taking among the various partners are critical. In addition, he is interested in understanding how diverse perspectives regarding the key project metrics might amplify learning mechanisms, or alternatively, give rise to consistent biases that will undermine the project selection (e.g. new drug development) process.

Visit Professor Nektarios (Aris) Oraiopoulos’s profile

Contact us

For more information, contact Nektarios (Aris) Oraiopoulos.

[email protected]