Buzz: GSK looking to tap Qualcomm's IT know-how for $1B joint venture

Chipmaker Qualcomm ($QCOM) is reportedly talking to GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) about setting up a $1 billion joint venture. The deal, reports of which were posted by two financial publications, would mark a continuation of Qualcomm's drive to tighten its ties to biopharma, which was given impetus last year when it set up a VC fund with Novartis ($NVS) and inked a deal with Roche ($RHHBY).

Details of Qualcomm's latest mooted foray into biopharma are sketchy. Bloomberg broke news of the talks with GSK, after which the Financial Times verified the initial report, adding a few details in the process. GSK has reportedly hired lawyers to hash out the terms of a deal with Qualcomm, which is expected to entail the companies pooling cash and skills to develop tech with applications in the biopharma industry. Details of exactly what tech and applications the companies have in mind are yet to emerge, although Qualcomm's efforts in the space to date could yield some clues.

At the start of last year, Novartis turned to Qualcomm to source tech to enable the collection and aggregation of medical device data in clinical trials. And, just weeks later, Qualcomm unveiled a deal with Roche, in which the companies committed to collaborating on technology to improve remote monitoring of chronic disease patients. In between those two deals, Novartis and Qualcomm set up a $100 million VC fund focused on digital healthcare technologies. Novartis expanded its relationship with Qualcomm earlier this month when it tapped it for tech to create a connected inhaler.

Reports now suggest GSK wants a piece of what Qualcomm is offering. The Big Pharma has already shown an interest in exploring how tech can enhance clinical trials, notably through collaborations with Medidata ($MDSO) and McLaren, a company best known for its role in Formula 1 car racing. But, at a reported value of $1 billion, the joint venture with Qualcomm would represent a ratcheting up of GSK's commitment to digital health.  

- read Bloomberg's article
- and the Financial Times piece (sub. req.)

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