Interesting article in today’s US print edition of the Wall Street journal titled, “Rivals band together in search for new drugs“.
Many who have looked at Open Data have heralded it as a game changer. It is, apparently, going to change many things, from how we run our businesses, how we gather information, to even changing the laws of competition. Well I am still a little skeptical of all the hoopla. I have a little more faith in the basics: competition, collaboration and ‘cloberation’ each have their place and I don’t see anything unpredictable about this changing with Open Data.
The article in question suggests that a group of otherwise competing pharmaceutical companies will collaborate where they used to compete. The change in relationship is taking place in the early drug development phase, specially focused on Alzheimer’s. The fact is that drug discovery research is extremely expensive and risky. Even to the point that the risk may I fact be too great for any one firm to meet, and so a newly agreed limit to where competition starts has emerged.
The fact is that competition is not dead at all. The firms in question have agreed to pool their resources, from the earliest part of the research phase, up to a point in the research program before development even starts. No member gets any advantage, and cannot even use the data, until it is made public, and so available to all- even those not involved in the early work.
So the laws of competition have not changed. What has changed is the dialog about where to draw the boundaries around shared risk and reward. This is not a new dialog. Anyone seriously involved in developing business to business collaboration knows this dialog well. But Open Data and programs like it are certainly bringing such dialogs more into the open. That I can accept and encourage.