How Good Ideas Grow from Academic Partnerships
This summer, a group of AbbVie’s top leaders went back to college in search of the next big thing.
That’s because in college, new ideas aren’t found in a boardroom or on a conference call. At the AbbVie Innovation Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, new ideas happen after a round of arcade basketball, hanging out with Aragon, the center’s mascot lizard, or during a 48-hour hackathon.
“College students are passionate about changing the world,” says Rob Scott, M.D., chief medical officer and vice president of development, AbbVie. “They have new ideas and are dedicated to making those ideas a reality.”
The AbbVie Innovation Center was established by AbbVie's business technology solutions team in 2015, starting with five students. This year, the center had more than 300 visitors and employed 95 students whose specialties ranged from coding and information technology to communications and law. The partnership provides opportunities for students to get hands-on experiences figuring out solutions to real world business problems.
Students who work at the Center aren’t fetching coffee. They're working on a robotic process automation programs and preparing for a hackathon or giving presentations and meeting with senior AbbVie R&D leadership. In fact, several R&D data science and technology leaders are dedicated mentors and travel down to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign frequently to check in with their students.
“They might not initially think that their field of study would lead to a job in the pharma industry, but through partnerships like the AbbVie Innovation Center, they see how their unique talents can also help patients, and we get to work with some of the brightest young minds and future leaders,” says Masha Trenhaile, site manager, AbbVie Innovation Center.