BOX 6-1

Managing Strategic Alliances, Licensing, and Intellectual Property: Company, Foundation, and University Perspectives


Founded in 1989 by current Chairman, President, and CEO Joshua Boger, Ph.D, Vertex has more than 1,200 employees across three research and development sites in Cambridge, Massachusetts; San Diego, California; and Oxford, United Kingdom.


  • To build a major drug company through the development and commercialization of both Vertex-driven products and products developed in collaboration with major pharmaceutical companies.

  • To identify more efficiently promising drug candidates that address significant unmet medical needs.

Lessons Learned for Alliance Partners

Coordinating partner (customer)

  • Provide intellectual incentives for partner.

  • Avoid harsh or inappropriate acquisitiveness.

  • Listen, and welcome new ideas or approaches.

  • Be patient, and expect to walk before running.

  • Explicitly define (and quantify) any dissatisfactions.

  • Do not assume anything about the partner.

  • Find the right balance of parallel and serial actions.

  • Meet the partner team and maximize face-to-face communications.

  • Be aware that sometimes it really is best to let partners do it their way.

Executing partner (vendor)

  • Allow no internal commercial conflicts.

  • Solve operational problems with confidence.

  • Communicate troubleshooting strategies.

  • Strive to demonstrate wise independence.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions.

  • Don’t be afraid to suggest changes or innovations.

  • Remember execution problems are yours to solve.

  • Constantly inquire to recalibrate partner priorities.

  • Listen for when partners really must have it done their way.


  • Be honest and aware of your own strengths and weaknesses.

  • Understand your partner’s culture and personality.

  • Adapt your communication style to the partner’s personality.

  • Define roles and metrics of success clearly and explicitly.

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