Novartis Pharmaceuticals announced recently a joint investment company with Qualcomm Ventures, the investment arm of Qualcomm Incorporated, a world leader in 3G, 4G and next-generation wireless technologies. The new company will invest up to 100 million dollars (each company committing 50 million to the fund), in early-stage firms that offer tech solutions, products or services that “go beyond the pill”.
The significance of the new deal announced during the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas was hidden behind the ton of presentations and press releases that you could expect in the world’s biggest consumer technology show, but it was yet another evidence of the need for collaboration in a brave new world of new markets formed by the convergences of two or more different worlds.
Co- is double in this case. The deal is not just about two big companies collaborating to target together a new market. More specifically (and innovatively), it’s about investing together so they can bring to their ecosystems a myriad of new players in the form of startups, another increasingly popular model of co-innovation amid big players. Qualcomm has already experience been actively investing in digital health since 2011, and they currently have 18 healthcare startups in their global portfolio.
The new joint investment company will allow Novartis to combine their expertise in healthcare solutions with Qualcomm knowledge of mobile technologies to accelerate innovation in the field of digital medicine. Digital and mobile technologies are expected to make a significant difference in a pharmaceutical industry desperate to overcome the difficulty of having to put in advance an increasing amount of money to find new drugs decreasingly able to turn into a profitable investment. The “pill culture” that characterized pharmas for more than a century is unsustainable in a healthcare context moving away from ‘fee for service’ to an outcomes-based model, a trip that’s better doing accompanied.