She is thus working at a key interface within the company: Boehringer Ingelheim has consistently built up partnerships with biotechs in recent years. Today, around 50 per cent of programmes in the early and middle stages of Boehringer Ingelheim’s pipeline have an external innovation component, be it from biotech or academia. Boehringer Ingelheim wants to invest even more into partnerships. Over the next five years, the company is set to spend 1.5 billion euros in cooperation with external partners.
Dr Casarosa regularly visits biotechnology hotspots: besides Boston, also San Francisco and Tokyo. She and her team have held partnering days in these cities over the past three years in order to facilitate a dialogue with promising institutions and start-ups. These invitation-only events offer a more personal way to engage with innovators. The focus is on one-on-one interactions and roundtable discussions seeking open feedback from established and future partners on Boehringer Ingelheim’s partnering approach and specific needs. “Partnerships in the early stages of research are a very effective way of creating the greatest benefit for both sides,” underlines Dr Casarosa. “It helps us create the right working relationship and best position the compound or platform by jointly shaping its development.”
As a research-driven pharmaceutical company, Boehringer Ingelheim draws on a global network. “That’s important for our partners because we have the right capabilities to transform research findings into successful new medicines which can help patients in need,” says Dr Casarosa. Boehringer Ingelheim’s capabilities are demonstrated by the company’s track record in product approvals with regulatory agencies.
Recent achievements speak for themselves: in the years 2014 and 2015, the company gained new approvals for a total of eleven new drug treatments from either the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the European Medicines Agency (EMA). It is with good reason that Boehringer Ingelheim was ranked among the top ten most innovative companies by IDEA Pharma in 2015. The news agency Thomson Reuters for the first time named Boehringer Ingelheim as one of the 100 most innovative companies. “Our search for partnerships is driven by our ambition to fill therapeutic gaps, and our work by a scientific and medical rationale,” says Dr Casarosa, “and it’s paying off.”