Vice President, Global Head of External Innovation and Direct Investments
GSK Consumer Healthcare
Bringing Outside Innovators to Pharma
In a world where the high cost of care dominates the conversation and impacts patients far too often, Robert Sarrazin envisions a much-needed change implemented in the not-too-distant future—a change that gives more power and control to the consumer in the care they receive. In order to help make this change a reality, Rob brought his 20 years of private equity and venture capital experience to GSK where he has created, and currently leads, a multi-faceted effort to drive consumer health innovation.
Rob is taking on the status quo by cultivating and seeking out external partnerships with the goal of finding disruptive innovators. Using his finance expertise to forge these external partnerships, he is finding unexpected ideas that originate with diverse teams ranging from academia and incubators to startups and small companies whose work complements that of the GSK staff innovation team. His focus is on pairing GSK’s traditional strengths and knowledge with today’s new innovators in order to produce results faster and more inventively, while also creating devices and systems that empower consumers to make better healthcare decisions and access medications and treatment more easily.
Rob’s part in this dual approach requires the willingness to go into new territory without a roadmap. The dual-team approach achieves greater results than investing in simply one approach or the other. When the GSK/Novartis Consumer Healthcare Joint Venture began, 90% of the programs were wholly internal. Now, the world-class GSK internal teams have been supplemented to the point where nearly 50% of GSK Consumer Healthcare projects are run in collaboration with external teams.
Rob believes that you cannot survive today without developing and accepting a diversity of ideas and innovators. Fostering internal innovation, paired with a focus on external, strategic partnerships, has vastly increased the scope of the GSK innovation pipeline, converting opportunities and ideas into a strong, sustainable flow of new product launches that positively impact the patient and transform the future of self-care.