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| Collaboration can be challenging; nevertheless, the emerging successes of large, multi-partner, multi-national cooperatives and research networks in the biomedical sector have sustained the appetite of academics and industry partners for developing and fostering new research consortia. This model has percolated down to national funding agencies across the globe, leading to funding for projects that aim to realise the true potential of genomic medicine in the 21st century and to reap the rewards of ‘big data’. In this Perspectives article, the experiences of the RA-MAP consortium, a group of more than 140 individuals affiliated with 21 academic and industry organizations that are focused on making genomic medicine in rheumatoid arthritis a reality are described. The challenges of multi-partner collaboration in the UK are highlighted and wide-ranging solutions are offered that might benefit large research consortia around the world.