Industry-Sponsored Research Week
Industry-Sponsored Research Management

University econ dev network unexpectedly finds niche in industry-sponsored research


By David Schwartz
Published: September 19th, 2017

Industry-sponsored research was not a priority for the technology transfer and economic development leaders who created Innovate New Mexico®, a recently formed network of the leading research institutions in the state focused on building entrepreneurship, start-ups and economic development benefits out of university innovations. The Technology Showcase they planned as the organization’s inaugural event was designed more for entrepreneurs and investors looking for start-up opportunities built on technologies developed at the six member institutions.

Now, though, building relationships between industry and academia is just as big a focus for the Showcase events, which present members’ innovation assets to entrepreneurs, investors, and, importantly, industry partners.

 “We didn’t necessarily start out with sponsored research as a goal,” says Lisa Kuuttila, CEO and chief economic development officer at STC.UNM, the University of New Mexico’s technology transfer office. Kuuttila led the effort to form Innovate New Mexico and its predecessor, the Albuquerque-focused Innovate ABQ. “We didn’t know who would attend the first Showcase. But the labs and universities that make up Innovate New Mexico found that some of the large ‘corporates’ that attended were not specifically looking for technology, but for research relationships.”

Now, she adds, those relationships, along with technology transfer and start-up investment, are “all equal goals in the Showcases. We’re always recruiting companies to attend, and now is prime time for us to be getting people to put the next Showcase on their travel schedules for fall.”

Travel, in fact, is a key component of Innovate New Mexico’s allure to industry, because its members — Los Alamos National Laboratory; New Mexico State University Arrowhead Center, in Las Cruces; New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, in Socorro; and STC.UNM, Sandia National Laboratories and the Air Force Research Laboratory at the Kirtland Air Force Base, all in Albuquerque — are spread out over a very big state with a very small population.

 “A very important aspect of the Showcases is our national labs,” Kuuttila explains. “They’re a big draw for the corporates, but visitors don’t want to come to New Mexico, to Albuquerque, and then have to go visit Los Alamos and then Las Cruces — they’re more than 300 miles apart. With the Showcases, corporate can be very efficient with their time and see everybody in one place.”

Creating an event that allows them to see multiple technologies and multiple start-up companies in one day — with follow-up if necessary, of course — is “a huge advantage” for the network, she adds. “It’s the rationale for corporate to be here.”

A detailed article on the Innovate New Mexico’s Technology Showcase appears in the August issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management. To subscribe and get the full article — and a $100 discount as well as a free 3-session distance learning collection filled with best practices in university-industry partnerships — CLICK HERE.

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Next week: Best Practices for Safeguarding University IP When Structuring Deals in China


By David Schwartz
Published: September 19th, 2017

Business opportunities abound in China, both for licensing IP and for university start-ups seeking cost-effective manufacturing options for their products. And while the opportunities are significant and shouldn’t be ignored, neither should the fact that IP theft in China is still a huge problem — and universities need to protect their valuable IP.

Deals made in China can threaten IP rights not just in China, but in markets around the world. If your university is involved in the huge Chinese market or plans to be, it’s critical you understand China’s IP landscape and know how to manage key IP issues — and avert big problems that can demolish the value of your innovations.

That’s why we’ve scheduled an information-packed webinar with one of the world’s foremost experts on licensing and contracting in the Chinese market. Best Practices for Safeguarding University IP When Structuring Deals in China, scheduled for September 26, features Dan Harris, an attorney with Harris Bricken in Seattle. He will explore the nuts and bolts of constructing good business deals (including licensing deals) with Chinese partners, what your agreements should include, and how to minimize China-related IP risks. For complete details and to register, CLICK HERE.

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Advanced Technology Development Center’s Industry Connect program successfully pairs major companies with start-ups


By David Schwartz
Published: September 19th, 2017

Next month hotel chain Hilton will begin testing an intelligent network of sensors in its hotel kitchens, designed to help improve the monitoring of different systems such as refrigeration temperatures and learning about potential equipment failures before they occur. The technology comes from VeriSolutions, a start-up that sprung from Georgia Institute of Technology’s Advanced Technology Development Center and it Industry Connect program. If the results bear out, the two-year-old VeriSolutions could end up in the hotelier’s technology pipeline. continue reading »

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New engineering research center lands $20M from NSF to develop therapies based on living cells


By David Schwartz
Published: September 19th, 2017

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded nearly $20 million to a consortium of universities to support a new engineering research center (ERC) that will work closely with industry and clinical partners to develop scalable, low-cost, high-quality living therapeutic cells. Such cells could be used in a broad range of life-saving medical therapies now emerging from research laboratories. continue reading »

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U of Utah partners with Janssen to investigate link between suicide risk, genetics


By David Schwartz
Published: September 19th, 2017

The University of Utah announced a new research partnership in its efforts to study the connection between genetic variations and a person’s risk for suicide. Janssen Research & Development, a Belgium-based pharmaceutical company, is now a participating sponsor in the Utah Suicide Genetics Project, according to university spokesperson Stacy Kish. continue reading »

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Bayer, Vanderbilt U Medical Center collaborate on new kidney disease therapies


By David Schwartz
Published: September 19th, 2017

Bayer and Nashville-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center have agreed on a five-year strategic research alliance to join forces in the fight against kidney diseases. The partners will jointly evaluate new drug candidates with the goal of accelerating the translation of innovative approaches from the laboratory to pre-clinical development. continue reading »

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Kansas State, PepsiCo to collaborate on affordable nutrition


By David Schwartz
Published: September 19th, 2017

Kansas State University has entered into an agreement with PepsiCo, Inc. to fund research into making nutritious food and beverages more affordable and accessible. continue reading »

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The Guide to Commercializing Mobile Apps on Campus


By David Schwartz
Published: September 19th, 2017

For university TTOs, mobile apps present a tremendous opportunity for new revenues as well as new relationships with the hundreds of students and faculty creating apps on campus. But the fast-moving mobile app market is a different animal with its own unique challenges and complexities — as well as unfamiliar legal issues that can derail your efforts and lead to time-consuming, costly litigation.

The Guide to Commercializing Mobile Apps on Campus — a 4-session distance learning collection — is designed to help you tap into the massive apps marketplace as a way to enhance TTO revenue and better serve your student and faculty app developers. Along with over 4 hours of solid advice and takeaways, you’ll receive 50 pages of program materials created by the session leaders.

For complete details, CLICK HERE >>

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MaRS Innovation, Evotec AG launch “LAB150” to accelerate drug discovery in Ontario


By David Schwartz
Published: September 19th, 2017

MaRS Innovation and Evotec AG have launched “LAB150,” a Toronto-based partnership that will pair the infrastructure and drug discovery expertise of Evotec with cutting-edge drug discovery projects emerging from the 15 member institutions of MaRS Innovation. MaRS is the commercialization agent for 15 of Ontario’s research universities. continue reading »

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New partnerships add momentum to the Cascadia Innovation Corridor


By David Schwartz
Published: September 19th, 2017

Leaders from Washington state and British Columbia announced several new initiatives designed to on improving connectivity, strengthening innovation and generating economic opportunity by building stronger links between government, universities, and industry in what is known as the Cascadia Innovation Corridor. continue reading »

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Big Pharma, universities invest together in drug discovery partnership


By David Schwartz
Published: September 12th, 2017

Apollo Therapeutics LLP — a drug discovery collaboration with three university and three pharma company partners — has funded, launched or planned more than half a dozen “novel and compelling” programs in “areas of high medical need,” and more than $11 million is on the table for the first four “milestoned project plans.” At least two more projects are in the final planning stages, and “multiple” additional programs are being evaluated.

That pipeline success is the result of a state-of-the-art drug discovery program that’s built on the decision making of a team of drug discovery experts — and that requires candor and quick thinking. Richard P. Butt, PhD, CEO at the Stevenage, UK-based enterprise, calls that “wholly new and revolutionary.”

Apollo was formed 18 months ago as Apollo Therapeutics Fund — with an original kitty of about $52 million — by AstraZeneca UK Ltd., Glaxo Group Ltd. and Johnson & Johnson Innovation-JJDC Inc. and the technology transfer offices of Imperial College London, University College London and the University of Cambridge (those TTOs are Imperial Innovations Group plc, UCL Business plc and Cambridge Enterprise Ltd., respectively). Each pharma will contribute about $13 million over six years to the venture, and each TTO will contribute about $4.5 million. The industry partners have also committed “R&D expertise and additional resources.”

The discovery program begins when Butt’s team talks to academics and TTO staff to identify prospects. One report has the team conducting as many as 100 interviews a year with scientists at the three schools; Butt notes that Apollo is “embedded” in the universities and can talk confidentially to any academic at any of the three.

His Drug Discovery Team (DDT), made up of ex-industry scientists, works with them to shape projects to bring forward for development in all therapy areas and modalities — including small molecules, peptides, proteins, antibodies and cell and gene therapies. The ideas they think can actually be commercialized go to the Apollo Therapeutics Investment Committee (AIC), chaired by Ian Tomlinson, a former senior vice president at GSK. The AIC, made up of representatives from the six partners, makes final investment decisions.

The candidates they pick start the development process. Lab work might take place at one of the universities, at one of the pharma companies or at “a contract company” — one of which could be the Milner Therapeutics Institute’s research labs, set to open at Cambridge next year. The three pharmas have first dibs on any therapeutics developed from any of the Apollo-funded programs; after that, it’s up to the TTO involved to outlicense the technology. The revenue gained from of any agreements will be divvied up among the six founding partners such that the originating university and TTO get “a percentage of future commercial revenues or outlicensing fees” and the others get the rest.

The system’s structure is the reason so many potential new pharmaceuticals are being researched, Butt says. “The AIC is made up of one member of each partner and an independent chair, and the DDT team members were recruited through an extensive recruitment process and were not ‘placed’ by either the AIC or the contributing partners,” he explains.

Starting with DDT interactions with academic scientists — “to date, we have seen more than 120 different academics face-to-face at the three universities,” he notes — the DDT “makes a determination of projects that are at the right stage and have the right data to initiate or continue a drug discovery program.”

A detailed article on the Apollo partnership appears in the August issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management. To subscribe and access the full article, plus receive a $100 discount and a three-program distance learning collection on best practices in industry-university partnerships, CLICK HERE.

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IBM inks huge $240 million partnership with MIT for AI research lab


By David Schwartz
Published: September 12th, 2017

IBM is making big bets on the future of artificial intelligence, and it’s latest move is bringing nearly a quarter billion dollars in funding to MIT research. In a collaboration announced last week, the computer giant will pour $240 million over 10 years into a joint AI research lab in partnership with MIT. continue reading »

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