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Public-private partnerships (P3s) have become an increasingly pivotal—almost doctrinal—driver of R&D across the health sciences, allowing governments, academic institutions, not-for-profit organizations, care providers, investors and industry to leverage scarce resources and expertise, share risk, expand the field of viable innovation opportunities and, in theory, accelerate health and economic impact. Buoyed by their compelling logic, partnerships have flourished globally, and as their scope and diversity have expanded, so too has creative appetite to experiment with unorthodox models.

But for all the advantages that have made P3s increasingly inevitable, these partnerships have not become less complex. Clarifying governance and decision-making, managing inconsistent perceptions of risk, enforcing ownership and accountability, aligning incentives, ensuring access to innovation: these are just a few of the considerations that distinguish success from failure.

Realizing the full potential of a P3 is often impeded by the diversity of objectives, priorities and experience among partners and requires advancement on five imperatives:

  1. Establish governance mechanisms that enable appropriate participation in decision-making
  2. Instill a predictable approach to communication among partners and with stakeholders
  3. Develop IP policies that balance the needs of each partner with the objectives of the partnership
  4. Align partners around the conditions, processes and timelines for making products/technologies available
  5. Cultivate an industry mindset by applying business discipline early in technology development