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How many opportunities make it to signed deals with pharma?

June 1, 2012

Follow up to an earlier post, The 1%, about how many opportunities make it to signed deals with pharma.

These Eli Lilly and Company numbers were shared in a public forum—at the 14th Annual NIH SBIR/STTR Conference yesterday in Louisville—by Bill Desmarais, Ph.D., Global External R&D.  Plus, I checked with him just to make sure.

Eli Lilly and Company sees between 4,000 and 6,000 opportunities per year.  From that, about 30 go to due diligence and 2-3 “in man molecule deals” are signed.  Lilly has better luck with technologies; inking approximately 30-60 deals per year (these are drug discovery enabling technologies).

Splitting the difference at 5,000 total opportunities, and including enabling technologies, approximately 1% of total potential deal opportunities actually become deals.  So, it appears that Lilly’s numbers are fairly consistent with others in the industry.  Less than 1%, though, looking at molecules only. 

Academic partnerships have been rare and are driven by individual scientists at Lilly.  However, Lilly’s PD2 and TD2 initiatives ( appear to be changing that a bit with 3 academic agreements since 2010 and one with the NIH in 2012 (

Further evidence that you’ve done something if you get to a deal.

Lilly also posts Areas of Interest.  Again, we have to be up to speed on those, know what to shop to whom.  And, related, be aware of PIs here who are doing work in those areas.


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