One of the flagships of health research under Horizon 2020, the current framework programme for research and innovation, is the Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI), the world's largest public-private initiative in this area. IMI is a Joint Undertaking (JU) between the European Union, represented by the Commission, and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations. Other industries and partners can join, either as members of the JU or as Associated Partners.
IMI's strategic research agenda is aligned with the priorities of the World Health Organization's 2013 report "Priority medicines for Europe and the world". The main goal is to speed up the development of better and safer medicines with specific objectives such as:
- increasing the success rate of clinical trials of new medicines and vaccines
- speeding up the earlier stages of drug development
- developing new biological markers to diagnose diseases and assess treatments
IMI also aims at developing new treatments for areas with the greatest needs, and to improve the drug development process by creating tools to assess the efficacy, safety and quality of medicines.
From 2008-2013, IMI had a total budget of close to €2 billion. From 2014-2024 its budget will reach €3.3 billion, half of which comes from Horizon 2020. Currently IMI addresses the entire life science research and innovation value chain and actively involving life science industries other than pharmaceuticals, for example the vaccine, animal health and biomedical imaging industries.
To achieve its objectives, IMI is fostering the implementation of results through a tailor-made intellectual property policy. Most importantly, IMI supports collaborative research projects and builds networks of industrial and academic experts in order to boost pharmaceutical innovation in Europe. These projects bring together universities, industries, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), patient organisations, and regulators.