Novartis - UC Berkeley Research Collaboration

By Margaret Eaton
2004 | Case No. BME7
In November 1998, Steven Briggs was appointed CEO of the Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute, Inc. (NADII), a new research institute created under the corporate umbrella of Novartis AG. NADII had a mandate to jump start Novartis’s basic research program in plant genomics, and Briggs was considering the latest research proposal terms offered by the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). Novartis was the finalist in an auction launched by the university in April 1998 to find a corporate partner with which it could establish a broad plant genomics research alliance. The arrangement was unprecedented and required a great deal of trust on the part of Novartis—trust that the Berkeley faculty could produce useful discoveries for the company’s fledgling plant genomics initiative. On the surface it appeared that recent advances in the cost-intensive field of life sciences, combined with heated competition in industry for leadership in biotechnology, had aligned the interests of the university and Novartis. Briggs was ready to approve the proposal. Before putting pen to paper, however, he considered the forces that had led to the historic agreement between Novartis and UC Berkeley, research findings, his firm’s strategic choices, and academia’s contribution to new discoveries.
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