AstraZeneca and Taiwan’s National Research Program for Biopharmaceuticals (NRPB) said today they have launched an “open innovation” research collaboration, with the goal of speeding up drug discovery. The value of the collaboration and other financial terms were not disclosed.

NRPB will fund research proposals submitted by academic institutes across Taiwan toward exploring new therapeutic uses for AstraZeneca’s small molecule compounds and biologics—activity the institution and pharma giant hope will lead to the development of new therapies.

“We expect other domestic and international biopharmaceutical companies will follow this example,” NPRB Director Michael M.C. Lai, M.D., Ph.D., said in a statement.

Through preclinical testing and clinical trials, NRPB aims to strengthen IP management and promote closer collaboration with industry. Over the long term, the program intends to train Taiwan scientists and advance excellence and international competitiveness in domestic industries, as well as promote domestic innovations and achievements globally.

In the case of the AstraZeneca collaboration, areas of “high interest” include the three core therapy areas identified by CEO Pascal Soriot in March—cardiovascular and metabolic diseases; cancers; and respiratory, inflammation, and autoimmunity diseases—along with neuroscience, a previously core area in which Soriot promised his company will remain active, “though our investments will be more ‘opportunity-driven.'”

“By giving best-in-class academic research institutions access to some of our valuable, high-quality compounds, we are opening doors to unexplored areas of preclinical and clinical research to help find the next generation of medical breakthroughs,” said AstraZeneca’s Don Frail, vp and head, emerging innovations, science partnerships and alliances.

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