Approach to R&D capacity building

Novartis takes a comprehensive approach to targeting local R&D capacity building needs.


  • What: Novartis undertakes a large number of R&D partnerships with universities and other research organisations in countries in scope of the Access to Medicine Index 2016, through which it consistently addresses local skills gaps.
  • Objective: The goal is to support and develop scientific and clinical expertise in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Details: The approach includes capacity building for a range of skills related to R&D, including drug discovery and clinical trial management.
  • Scope: Novartis focuses on research organisations in sub-Saharan Africa for its R&D capacity building partnerships.

Looking closer

Novartis takes a comprehensive approach to partnering with in-country research organisations to build local R&D capacity. It has a large number of local R&D partnerships, compared to other companies in scope of the Index. For all partnerships, it identifies specific local skills gaps and designs partnerships to target identified needs.

For example, Novartis’ collaboration with Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia meets local capacity building needs related to conducting regulated clinical trials. It focuses on building the experience of post-graduate students in conducting phase 1 trials as well as providing grants to improve supporting infrastructure for trials.

Some partnerships are also long-term, which may better support the meeting of local needs than short-term projects. For example, the company has supported H3D (Africa’s first integrated drug discovery and development centre, based at the University of Cape Town in South Africa) since 2011 and continues to partner with the centre to build a range of R&D-related capacities in 2016. It has also partnered with Strathmore University and Kenya Medical Research Institute to develop local clinical pharmacology trial skills in Kenya: this resulted in a pharmacokinetic study being successfully conducted in February 2016.

While many companies measured by Index undertake R&D partnerships with research organisations in countries in scope of the Index, Novartis’ approach is notable both for the quantity of partnerships, and the fact that all of those partnerships are designed to specifically target an identified gap in local capacity.

Sign up to receive updates about our work.