Managing an R&D Pipeline is all about making the best decisions about where to invest. I have found that a good understanding of the R&D pipeline and portfolio is essential to reduce waste, duplication and poor use of valuable resources.
As R&D activities are complex and ever changing keeping track will always be challenging, but in my experience every organisation really should be able to answer some simple questions about the nature of its portfolio of activities.
Large high tech businesses may be working on many 100s of collaborations with university researchers around the world. This is certainly the case in the pharmaceutical industry. We wanted to increase the transparency of the external collaborations we were progressing to drive better value and increased uptake within our own laboratories of the benefits that the collaborations were yielding.
We have addressed this problem by developing a simple visualisation tool for our external collaborations that is available to all staff and aims to answer questions such as:
- How are we spending the external collaborations budget?
- Which collaborations are we progressing in each of our strategic science areas?
- Which institutions are we working with and how much are we spending with each of them?
- Which academics are we working with?
- What is the split of short, medium, long term collaborations?
- What is the level of risk with our collaborations?
- How has the portfolio changed over time?
The solution we came up with was inspired by the Visualising our Portfolio [VoP] interface that was developed by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council [EPSRC]. The EPSRC is a UK Government funded agency that funds a portfolio of over 4000 research activities with a total value of over £4.5 Billion. As this is public money transparency is essential.
The VoP interface offers information at many levels for all sorts of stakeholder. It is intuitive, visually rich in information and transparent. Interrogating it provides huge amounts of information about connectivity between institutions, individual academics, industrial collaborators, disciplines, research themes and more. It provides individual grant details as well as more advanced tools that show the partners involved in each project and how they work with each other.
I encourage you to take a look at this powerful tool and think about powerful tools that help organisations manage their R&D Pipeline.
Joe de Sousa