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Keywords:

  • R&D alliances;
  • innovation;
  • new ventures;
  • value creation;
  • value appropriation;
  • biopharmaceutical industry

A recent study of R&D alliances between new biotechnology firms (NBFs) and pharmaceutical firms investigated how NBFs deal with the “swimming with sharks” dilemma involved in allying with firms capable of appropriating value. It concludes that NBFs are less likely to select alliance partners with related expertise because of greater appropriation risk. Based on our experience as NBF managers and a survey of NBF executives, we believe that such situations are uncommon, and that the study more likely shows pharmaceutical firms seeking diversification. Thousands of NBFs seek alliances with the top 100 pharmaceutical firms, and the larger company is much more likely to be the one to select among multiple potential partners. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.