Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI)

At a Glance
  • Status: Active Consortium
  • Year Launched: 2008
  • Initiating Organization: European Union
  • Initiator Type: Industry
  • No disease focus
  • Location: International


The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is a public-private partnership between the European Union (EU) and the pharmaceutical industry trade association, European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). IMI is responsible for creating and managing consortia composed of industrial and academic experts to accelerate drug discovery in Europe, with a timeframe separated into two phases (2008-2013, 2014-2024) that are defined by unique research agendas.


IMI aims to improve drug discovery, with a focus on accelerating areas of research where there is an unmet medical or societal need. IMI is a partnership between the EU and the European pharmaceutical industry, which is represented by EFPIA. As a third-party organization, IMI’s role is to initiate and manage consortia composed of European universities, the pharmaceutical and other industries, small and medium-sized companies, patient organizations, and government regulatory bodies.

The first phase of IMI (2008-2013) had four “pillars” that defined the focus of its research agenda:

Consortium History

The first phase of IMI was launched in 2008 and had 46 consortia operating as of 2014. Some of these partnerships focused on specific health issues such as neurological conditions (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, depression, chronic pain, and autism), diabetes, lung disease, oncology, inflammation and infection, tuberculosis, and obesity. Others focused on broader challenges in drug development such as drug and vaccine safety, knowledge management, sustainability of chemical drug production, use of stem cells for drug discovery, drug behavior in the body, creation of a European platform to discover novel medicines, and antimicrobial resistance. In addition to research projects, IMI supported education and training projects.

The second phase of IMI was launched in 2014, with a lifespan of 10 years. The first call for proposals focused on diabetes and was announced on July 2014.

Structure & Governance

IMI is a public-private partnership between the European Union, represented by the European Commission, and the European pharmaceutical industry, represented by EFPIA.

The governance structure of IMI is composed of the following bodies:


During its first phase (2008-2013), IMI had a budget of €2 billion, half of which came from the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for research and half of which came from in-kind contributions by the pharmaceutical industry via EFPIA. EFPIA companies and other associated partners do not receive EU funding but contribute to the projects “in kind,” for example by donating their researchers’ time or providing access to research facilities or resources.

The second phase of IMI (2014-2024) has a €3.3 billion budget, half of which (€1.6 billion) comes from Horizon 2020, the EU’s framework program for research and innovation. This is matched with €1.4 billion from EFPIA companies, plus up to €213 million provided by other life science industries or organizations that contribute to IMI2 as members or associated partners in individual projects.

Intellectual Property

IMI follows several principles that govern its intellectual property (IP) agreements, each of which is customized for the consortium and its partners. The principles include the following:

Patient Engagement

Nonprofit patient organizations are one of the eligible groups allowed to participate in the formation of a consortium. In addition to forming specific consortia, patient organizations such as Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Autism Speaks have provided additional financial contributions to IMI.

Data Sharing

The level and method of data sharing depends on the scientific goals of the consortium.


IMI has made several accomplishments, as shown by the European Commission’s reauthorization of its second phase. Some of its impacts are provided via bibliometrics, which have been analyzed by Thomson Reuters in quarterly reports that are available in the IMI Project analyses section of the documents webpage ( IMI also publishes an annual activity report on the same website, which provides a high-level view.

Accomplishments made by the individual consortium are described on their dedicated websites.   

Sponsors & Partners

Abbott Laboratories





Astellas Pharma Inc.


Autism Speaks


Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals

Bial Group

Biogen Idec

Boehringer Ingelheim

Bristol-Myers Squibb


Chiesi Pharmaceuticals

Daiichi-Sankyo, Ltd.

Eisai, Inc.

Eli Lilly & Co.

Esteve Quimica, S.A.

European Commission

European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations

F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.


Grünenthal GmbH


Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Johnson & Johnson

Lundbeck A/S   

Menarini Group

Merck & Co., Inc.

Merck Sorono/EMD Serono       

Novartis International AG

Novo Nordisk

Orion Corp

Otsuka Pharmaceutical

Pfizer, Inc.

Sanofi S.A.

Sanofi/Genzyme Corp

Servier Laboratories

Takeda Pharmaceuticals

UCB Pharma

Vifor Pharma

Last Updated: 04/15/2016

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