Innovation and investment | Partnerships | GlaxoSmithKline

Innovation and investment

How does a pharmaceutical company ensure that it has a steady supply of great ideas and brilliant science in the earliest stages of discovering new medicines? Our approach is to make the most of the expertise we have in-house, and at the same time look outside for the best science, no matter where it might be.

By creating networks outside the company and collaborating with partners in academia, industry and government, we’re able to bring the best minds together and share expertise, which encourages innovation and stimulates entrepreneurship.

Another source of new technologies and transformative medicines is small start-ups and biotechnology companies that may eventually become GSK partners. But with recent challenges in the economic environment, many emerging biotechs - who rely on venture capital - have had a hard time raising the funding they need.

We believe that a thriving biotech sector is crucial for the success of the entire pharmaceutical industry, and we are committed to supporting and nurturing start-ups and encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation.

Here are a few of the novel approaches we have taken to do that:

  • Announced the launch of the GSK Canada Life Sciences Innovation Fund, a new national $50 million fund that will significantly advance the commercialisation of scientific innovation in Canada by investing in early stage breakthrough research. The fund will identify strategic investment opportunities within Canada’s life sciences industry, including academic and health institutions, translational research centres, and start-up companies.
  • Joined forces with competitor Johnson & Johnson to launch Index Ventures’ first fund, solely dedicated to making investments in the life sciences sector. This unique pharma/venture partnership model is intended to stimulate promising, early-stage R&D innovation. 
  • We have our own independent corporate venture firm, SR One, one of the first established in the US and now with offices in the UK also. The firm invests globally in emerging life science companies that are pursuing innovative science which will significantly impact medical care. Its current portfolio includes approximately 30 private and public companies, and since its founding in 1985 it has invested over $680MM in the biotech field.
  • Our R&D-based Scinovo team has a unique scientific support model, providing potential and existing partners an opportunity to access our drug discovery and development knowledge and expertise. As a dedicated team, Scinovo consultants can draw upon the breadth and depth of their experience to provide targeted and integrated solutions that help our collaborators navigate the development landscape, while also providing access to other experts within GSK where specialist knowledge is required.
  • We will be investing $10 million (£6.2 million) into a new Global Health Investment Fund designed to provide financing to advance the development of new drugs, vaccines, diagnostic tools and other interventions for diseases that disproportionately burden low-income countries. As a founding investor, GSK will provide financial support but will also contribute valuable scientific and product development, manufacturing and regulatory advice through our participation on the fund’s Scientific Advisory Board. 


Action Potential Venture Capital is our $50 million strategic venture capital fund created to invest in companies that are pioneering bioelectronic medicines and technologies. The fund will build a portfolio with five to seven companies over the next five years. The focus for investments will be in three main areas:

  • new start-up companies that aim to pursue the vision of bioelectronic medicines
  • existing companies with technologies that are interacting with the peripheral nervous system through first-generation devices that can stimulate or block electrical impulses
  • companies advancing technology platforms that will underpin these treatment modalities

To find out more, visit the Action Potential website.