Strategy4Scientists - Strategic Collaborations

Welcome to the workshop page for Strategic Collaborations

This workshop is designed to provide an overview of how scientific enterprises engage in collaborations, and uses examples to illustrate the concepts. This webpage outlines the lectures, podcasts and small group activity for the workshop. PLEASE READ about all three workshop components (lecture, podcasts, and group activity), which cover two major topics.

The two major topics for this module on Strategic Collaborations:

1. Academic and Biopharma collaborations - the nuts and bolts of what each side seeks to achieve and the process for partnering successfully. By the end of Part 1, you will be able to:

  • Define what industry and academia seek to achieve when partnering with each entity
  • Describe common industry-academic partnering models
  • Describe common agreements executed by the Office of Technology Management (OTM) or tech transfer office at a university
  • Describe how a biopharma company's "partnering process" works
  • List key best practices for industry-academic collaborations

2. On Being Collaborative and Influential - the soft skills needed to collaborate successfully. By the end of Part 2, you will be able to:

  • Identify effective business communication etiquette
  • Define structures for working together
  • Explain ways you can be effectively influential
  • Describe the purpose of feedback in a business context



This workshop is designed as a flipped classroom - participants watch the videos before the class and discuss the cases in class.

It is mandatory to watch these videos before attending the workshop. Total video time for Parts I & II is approximately 40 minutes.


PODCASTS - Strategy4Scientists

For this module, we suggest the following podcast episodes, which can be found on iTunes - Strategy4Scientists.

  • Ying-Li Chen - Academic side of partnering with biopharma. Ying-Li explains the types of research projects that the Office of Technology Management is typically interested in.
  • Todd Pazdera - Academic side of partnering with biopharma. Todd explains why companies might seek to set up agreements with academic labs and different types of agreements.
  • Robert Hesse (script)- Soft skills are critical for successful partnering. Rob discusses what factors make a partnership strategic, how to optimize productivity in the collaboration, and read a room.

SMALL GROUP ACTIVITY - bring your laptop

For the in-class discussion, the participants will break into small groups and perform an activity related to Part 1 of the content - identifying potential partners for a company of interest. The potential partner could be a biopharma company or an academic lab, and the company of interest is the one from which you will pretend you are employed. Feel free to continue this activity with a company of interest from last week.: Global Blood Therapeutics, Intersect ENT, Juno Therapeutics, or choose a company from the QB3 incubator. In this workshop, discuss partnership plans with colleagues who researched a similar company, or join a group that discusses a different company. NOTE: Bring your laptop or tablet for this in-class activity.

YOU WILL NEED TO PREPARE for the discussions by reviewing the sample companies ahead of time. Participants who browsed the websites before class reported a more positive and engaging in-class experience. So, go ahead and see how much of the company's strategy you can identify from the website.

Questions to answer in the small groups:

1. How would you describe the company's value proposition? This is key to determining a potential partner.

  • What is the population of interest?

2. What are the potential goals of each partner?

  • What might your company aim to achieve? What is a potential gap you aim to fill?
  • What are goals and gaps for your potential partner company?
  • Do you want additional information on what a gap is? You may find this video on Identifying Gaps helpful (15 min).

3. What are each partner's resources, capabilities and constraints?

4. How is your side handling confidentiality?


If you are interested in learning more about gaps, which is a term used in business development, check out the course page for Business Development

This workshop will focus on Part 1 - the nuts and bolts of the partnering side, and less on Part 2 -on being collaborative and influential. We will discuss the videos and podcasts related to the interpersonal skills, though, so come prepared.


Speakers and course developers

Girish Aakalu, PhD - Vice President and Head of Global Scientific Affairs & Scientific Intelligence at Ipsen.

Jessica Tashker, PhD - Associate Director in the Market Analysis and Strategy group at Genentech. Jessica has 10+ years experience in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. Currently in her role, she helps the company to make informed, data-driven decisions on market strategy. Prior to Genentech she worked at the Institute for OneWorld Health, a non-profit pharmaceutical company, focusing on early stage drug development for childhood diarrheal disease. She holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Cancer Biology from Duke University.

Anatol Kreitzer, PhD - Associate Investigator at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease and Associate Professor of Physiology and Neurology at UCSF. Dr. Kreitzer’s research focuses on the disordered physiological processes associated with Parkinson’s disease. He is an expert in the emerging field of optogenetics—the application of genetic and optical techniques to remotely control brain cells in animals. 


Course producer - Thi Nguyen, PhD - PI of grants funded to develop this course and UCSF OCPD career development consultant. She is currently the associate dean for graduate career and professional development at Washington University in St. Louis.

Course manager - Kevin Hartman, UCSF graduate student and co-producer of the Strategy4Scientists podcasts.


Podcast speakers

Ying-Li Chen, MBA - Technology Market Manager at UCSF Office of Technology Management (OTM). Ying-Li manages technology marketing outreach including push and pull targeted marketing campaigns; and the OTM's newsletters to increase public awareness of UCSF technologies. Ying-Li works closely with the Technology Management Team to establish and expand UCSF industry-academia partnership. As part of her role, she attends local or national conferences such as JP Morgan Healthcare and BIO International Convention to actively build relationships with business development professionals. In addition, she supervises the OTM’s technology marketing analyst internship program.

Brad Grueter, PhD - Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, Vanderbilt University.

Robert Hesse, PhD - Consultant at ClearView Healthcare Partners and UCSF alum.

Todd Pazdera, PhD - Assistant Director, Technology Management at UCSF Office of Technology Management (OTM). Todd has over 10 years in licensing and business development experience that includes building significant research collaboration and licensing partnerships between academia and the life sciences industry. His roles at UCSF include licensing, facilitating UCSF based start ups, negotiation of IP language in collaboration agreements and MTA's, faculty engagement to learn about the commercial relevance of their research and to educate them on what makes a "good invention" and building new relationships with industry and early stage investors. His focus areas include diagnostic and therapeutics, but he also works with some software and medical device technology.


Video production

These educational videos were produced in collaboration with iBiology. Videos found in the iBioMagazine section under "Business Concepts".


Course funding

This course is provided at no cost to graduate students and postdocs thanks to funding by a Career Guidance for Trainees award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and NIH T32 administrative supplement (co-PI K. Mark Ansel).


Interested in learning more about the course or delivering this course at your university? Contact Thi at [email protected].


Strategy modules

Collaborations is part of a Strategy4Scientists series that includes:

 Intro to Strategy

and Strategy Toolkits 


Images downloaded from Shutterstock and Canva.