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Innovation in the biopharma industry: The COVID-19 vaccine race

Within the biopharmaceutical industry, there are two main types of firms. Majors, such as Pfizer and Merck, are large firms with resources and connections, and non-majors are smaller research-intensive firms, also as known small innovators.

In their research, Ram Mudambi, Solon Moreira and their co-authors argue that when these two types of firms collaborate, their combined strengths can make an invention commercially successful. In their model, small innovators conduct the research and majors provide the resources for commercialization through their large networks and organizational legitimacy.

The race to produce the COVID-19 vaccine emphasizes this idea as it was partnerships between majors and small innovators that led to the development and commercialization of different COVID-19 vaccines.