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Major new report reveals socio-economic impact of Innovative Medicines Initiative projects


The report was produced by a panel of independent, high-level experts from the fields of health economics and research and innovation policy. The group analysed in detail the outputs and impacts of the first nine IMI projects to finish. Between them, they have a total budget of €217.6 million, and cover areas such as diabetes, medicines safety, schizophrenia and depression, education and training, chronic pain, and severe asthma.

IMI projects are delivering on IMI’s goal of helping to make concrete improvements to the medicines development process

Broadly, most of the impacts identified by the experts fall into the category of improvements to the medicines R&D processes. As such, the report demonstrates that IMI is delivering on its goal, set out in the legislation creating IMI, of ‘significantly improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the drug development process’.

Here one very clear impact is the vast amounts of new knowledge generated by the projects, which between them have already published 546 scientific papers, with more in the pipeline. The projects have also developed and tested many new tools for studying diseases and developing new drugs. For example, in a world first, the IMIDIA project developed a functional line of human pancreatic beta cells (the cells which go wrong in diabetes). These make it easier for scientists to study diabetes in the lab. Furthermore, in some cases (including IMIDIA), new tools and resources developed by IMI projects have been commercialised, often by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In the long term, the knowledge and tools arising from these projects should help to speed up drug development, improve clinical trial design, cut costs, reduce the need for animal testing, and cut failure rates in drug development.

IMI projects are creating long-lasting collaborative networks

The report also highlights IMI’s role in creating long-lasting, collaborative networks. For many of the projects studied, the groups involved had never worked together before embarking on the IMI project together. Collaborating allowed the partners to share ideas, knowledge and experiences as well as risks. The benefits of these collaborations are evidenced by the fact that in several cases, the partners are continuing to collaborate even though the IMI project is over.

IMI leverages additional funding for medicines research and development

Through IMI, the European Commission invested a total of €82.3 million in the 9 projects studied. On top of this, EFPIA companies committed €104.8 million to the projects and a further €30.5 million came from other sources. This means that every euro invested in IMI by European taxpayers leveraged an additional €1.64.

IMI is making Europe an attractive place to carry out pharmaceutical research

The report also notes that the projects have helped to raise the profile and reputation of Europe as a location for medical and pharmaceutical research.

Pierre Meulien, IMI Executive Director commented: ‘This report is at the cutting edge of evaluation research, and represents an important element in IMI’s efforts to demonstrate with hard facts and figures how it is delivering on its goals. The volume and scale of project outputs and impacts identified by the experts is particularly exciting when one considers that they come from just 9 of the 71 projects IMI has launched so far.’

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: ‘This independent report confirms that IMI is delivering on its objectives. Public-private partnerships such as IMI are making the lives of Europeans better, create jobs and boost our competitiveness. They deliver results that single companies or countries could not achieve alone.’

Marc de Garidel, Chairman & CEO of Ipsen Group and Deputy Chair of the IMI Governing Board said: ‘This report demonstrates how IMI is helping industry to make big changes in the manner in which new medicines are developed, streamlining R&D processes, having a more collaborative approach, and thus ultimately bringing innovation more effectively to the patient.’

The report includes a number of recommendations on how IMI can maximise the socio-economic impacts of its projects. Over the coming months, IMI will analyse the recommendations and determine how best to implement them.

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Notes to editors

  •  Download the full report
  •  A summary of the findings per project as well as information on the authors can be found in this longer version of the press release.

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About the Innovative Medicines Initiative

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is working to improve health by speeding up the development of, and patient access to, the next generation of medicines, particularly in areas where there is an unmet medical or social need. It does this by facilitating collaboration between the key players involved in healthcare research, including universities, pharmaceutical companies, other companies active in healthcare research, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), patient organisations, and medicines regulators. This approach has proven highly successful, and IMI projects are delivering exciting results that are helping to advance the development of urgently-needed new treatments in diverse areas.

IMI is a partnership between the European Union and the European pharmaceutical industry, represented by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). Through the IMI 2 programme, IMI has a budget of €3.3 billion for the period 2014-2024. Half of this comes from the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. The other half comes from large companies, mostly from the pharmaceutical sector; these do not receive any EU funding, but contribute to the projects ‘in kind’, for example by donating their researchers’ time or providing access to research facilities or resources.