Here’s a headline that really stands out: McLaren’s formula added to Lucozade, drugs and education (The Times, September 15). I thought it was a very successful choice of title indeed since it really entices the reader to read through to discover what it is all about. And what you read is, to say the least, surprising: 

’McLaren’s expertise in building Formula One cars is to be put to use in the manufacture of antibiotics, vaccines and Lucozade in an unlikely alliance between the motor racing team and GlaxoSmithKline.’  


The first question that popped into my head is ’Why?’ Other than lots of cash to spend, a high performance culture and a focus on innovation, these companies have nothing in common: one races Formula 1 cars, while the other makes drugs. Well, apparently, ’a strategic programme is currently being evaluated to apply McLaren’s engineering and technical expertise to GSK’s manufacturing processes’. To support the project, a new state of the art facility will be built in the UK for employees of both companies to come together, share ideas and collaborate on different projects. OK, a bit better, but still their areas of expertise are worlds apart so it is difficult to see how the partnership can move successfully for both parties beyond mere sponsorship. Only time will tell. McLaren and GSK have recognised the fact that it is the first ever association of this type, it has not been tested at all and so they have given themselves until 2016 to trial it. We hope it succeeds. 

Interestingly, the article goes on to say that Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are to ’become "ambassadors", encouraging young people to embrace science and engineering’. Now we are talking. For me this is what sells the story and where I see that this is a very good deal for GSK. Applying McLaren’s obsession for performance to GSK’s processes and technology could potentially be great. As I said, let’s wait and see. But it is going to do GSK’s image the world of good to establish this alliance and be associated with two of the best known figures in the world of sport. Please do not read between the lines here. I’m in no way implying the GSK image is not already good. I’m simply saying that it is going to get (even) better. Young, successful, competitive - qualities that have been used to describe both drivers and that one would hesitate (for various reasons) to use when referring to the pharmaceutical industry. But we are in uncharted territory here. Will this new partnership make pharma and potentially a career in this industry a more appealing proposition to youngsters all over the world? Possibly, if nothing else, it makes it a little bit sexier. 

Bibiana Campos Seijo, editor