Factors Influencing the Partner Selection by Pharmaceutical Companies and Biotechnology Start-ups in Open Innovation Settings: A Case Study of LEO Pharma Open Innovation

Xanthippi Papadopoulou & Felix Hecht

Student thesis: Master thesis


As the ultimate response to the decline of the traditional closed model of innovation and the associated “drought” observed in their pipeline, several pharmaceutical companies around the globe have established Open Innovation platforms; a merge of Open Innovation and platformization. These platforms were created to facilitate the formation of partnerships between the pharmaceutical companies and external parties owning valuable innovative assets, such as biotechnology start-ups. However, due to their recent appearance in the industry, there is little literature covering what drives the collaborative relationships emerging from these entities. Therefore, this study aims to outline the drivers of partner choice when biotechnology start-ups and bigger pharmaceutical companies interact through these platforms. For this purpose, a case study of LEO Pharma Open Innovation platform was conducted. In order to identify the most decisive factors in the partner selection, assumptions were first formulated based on the literature review of over 50 academic articles and then tested through 8 semistructured interviews of our focus groups. The factors chosen and analyzed for the pharmaceutical company’s perspective are resource complementarity, intellectual property rights, company age, reputation and managerial control and financial capital investment, while the ones chosen for biotech start-ups are resource complementarity, company age & size, scientific reputation and managerial control and financial capital acquisition, familiarity and business commitment. Through this study, the factors resource complementarity and intellectual property rights for pharmaceutical firms and resource complementarity and business commitments for start-ups were shown to influence the decision of the studied parties to collaborate with each other. The rest of the factors were only found to increase or decrease the attractiveness of the potential partners, but they are not influential enough to actually alter the appetite for collaboration.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Bioentrepreneurship, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages82
SupervisorsValentina Tartari & Niclas Nilsson