NATURE REVIEWS DRUG DISCOVERY | Greater investment is needed in antibiotic R&D, and more must be done to maximize the impact of such investments. More widespread data sharing, such as the recent joint data contribution from Merck and Kyorin to the Pew Charitable Trusts’ SPARK platform, has a key role. We need to spend more money on antibiotic R&D to address this challenge, but we can also spend smarter, by encouraging data sharing, especially from failed projects. This will help every antibiotic research team to stand on the shoulders of giants, instead of reinventing the wheel. Commentary authored by Kevin Outterson, Zak Zimmerman, Kevin Krause and Wes Kim.