The Value of Giving Back

Does corporate philanthropy boost pharma innovation? Fred Bereskin and Ps-Hsuan Hsu believe so.

By Stephanie Sutton

August 2017

“CSR can offer benefits to firms in many ways, including greater attractiveness of the firm to its employees, advertising and improved pricing power with customers, and insurance from activists. My research with Po-Hsuan Hsu at University of Hong Kong has focused  on how corporate philanthropy can benefit pharmaceutical innovation,” says Fred Bereskin, Assistant Professor of Finance at the Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics at the University of Delaware. Bereskin’s focus is on corporate finance, particularly innovation and corporate governance, and he says that pharmaceutical firms are some of the most generous, in terms of their philanthropy; however, not all companies understand how philanthropy can ultimately benefit innovation and help develop partnerships with outside organizations. For one thing, collaborations with academic and not-for-profit organizations can include licensing deals that result in valuable patents. One common model in big pharma is to establish a research institute; the Center for Advanced Cellular Therapeutics created by Novartis and the University of Pennsylvania in 2012, for example. The center was partly funded by a $20-million grant from Novartis – and demonstrates how a direct donation can benefit innovation (as well as patients in need of cell therapies).