How IMI works
At the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), we work to improve health by speeding up the development of innovative medicines, particularly in areas where there is an unmet medical or social, public health need. We do this by facilitating collaboration between the key players involved in healthcare research, including universities, the pharmaceutical and other industries, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), patient organisations, and medicines regulators. This page explains how our top level objectives, as set out in the IMI1 and IMI2 legislation and the Strategic Research Agenda guide the choice of topics for Calls for proposals and, ultimately, the selection of projects.
Our top level objectives are set out in the legislation creating IMI1 and IMI2. IMI also has a multi-annual Strategic Research Agenda (SRA), which sets out our priority areas in more detail. Every year, IMI draws on its legislation and the SRA to set out annual research priorities. These form part of the Annual Work Plan, which is approved by the Governing Board and published online. These annual priorities are based on the need for collaboration in complex areas of biomedical research and innovation, and are a result of consultations between EFPIA companies, the European Commission and the other stakeholders.
Drawing on the annual priorities, a consortium of EFPIA companies and, in some cases, other large companies or organisations active in health research, agree on the need to work together and with other stakeholders on a specific issue. A topic text is drafted and, following consultation with various groups (including the IMI Scientific Committee and the States Representatives Group), the Call text is sent to the IMI Governing Board for approval. Following the Governing Board’s green light, IMI launches a Call for proposals on its website and the European Commission’s Participant Portal.
Following an open, competitive evaluation process involving independent experts and Governing Board approval, the project is launched.
Looking over the list of IMI projects, it is clear that we have always maintained a strong focus on priority disease areas, where safe, effective treatments are lacking, and/or where the impact on public health is greatest. For example, we have a large portfolio of projects on infectious diseases, with dedicated programmes on antimicrobial resistance and Ebola and related diseases. Brain disorders, an area where drug development takes even longer and costs even more than for other areas, are also well represented in IMI, with projects on Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, depression, chronic pain, and autism. Diabetes is another area where we are particularly active, and where we increasingly work in partnership with the patient organisation JDRF. In addition, we have a number of projects on cancer.
More broadly, we have many projects addressing cross-cutting issues in medicines research and development, and here results will help to improve the development of new treatments in all disease areas. For example, we have projects on drug and vaccine safety, big data and knowledge management, the sustainability of chemical drug production, the use of stem cells for drug discovery, drug behaviour in the body, and the creation of a European platform to discover novel medicines. In addition to research projects, we support education and training projects.