Industry-Sponsored Research Week
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U of Regina’s nightmare industry partnership goes from bad to worse


By David Schwartz
Published: May 15th, 2018

An industry partnership that began more than a decade ago between the University of Regina and HTC Pure Energy has been in court since 2012, with the university alleging that the company received a $10 million payment behind its back, leaving the school without a cent in royalties. U of Regina sued both HTC and South Korean company Doonan over the alleged backroom deal, and also leveled a fraud charge against both companies.

The latter just backfired in a big way, with a judge in the case ruling the fraud charge was baseless and awarding $35,000 to the two companies to cover their legal costs.

The original lawsuit alleged HTC and Doosan had secretly entered into an agreement to commercialize the university’s carbon capture technology – which HTC and the university were partnering on — in exchange for a $10 million payment that was concealed from the university.

HTC and Doosan have consistently argued that the university was falsely alleging fraud in its lawsuit, and that the school knew about the payment all along. The judge agreed. “Even once the information which demonstrated the lack of merit in the allegations of fraud was clearly drawn to the university’s attention, the university persisted with the allegations, refusing to change its position until the eleventh hour,” the judge explained.

The university did eventually remove the fraud allegation from its statement of claim, which is still being litigated.

HTC and Doosan don’t dispute that the $10 million changed hands and that Doosan licensed the CO2 capture technology in 2008, three years after the HTC research deal with U of Regina commenced. But Doosan claims the university was aware of it, and signed a letter “granting Doosan the right to become a direct licensee of the university in certain circumstances.”

That letter was signed by Ian Bailey, who at the time was U of Regina’s director of the University Industry Liaison Office. In the lawsuit, the university said HTC and Doosan deceived Bailey into signing the letter while failing to reveal to him that Doosan had paid money to HTC.

The university claimed HTC and Doosan didn’t reveal the fact of the $10 million payment and “deceived Mr. Bailey into believing, incorrectly, that the exclusive consideration being provided by the Doosan sefendants was the promise to pay “royalty fees” under the Doosan License Agreement.”

In addition, the university argued that Bailey didn’t have the authority to sign on behalf of the U of R and it claimed Bailey didn’t write the so-called confirmation letter at the heart of the dispute. Instead, the university said, that letter was written by HTC and/or Doosan. The school also asserted that Bailey did not possess the authority to sign in any case.

Doosan countered that Bailey held “an executive or high ranking position within the UILO, which is a unit, branch, department and or division of the university,” and was thus a valid signatory. While this issue and the related fraud charge has now been resolved, the university’s original lawsuit against HTC and Doosan continues. 

Source: CBC

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Enhance University-Industry Collaboration: Case Study of UGA’s Industry Engagement Team and Industry Express Program


By David Schwartz
Published: May 15th, 2018

The University of Georgia has made it a key priority to enhance industry partnerships based on a model that is “relationship-focused” rather than transactional — and it’s paying off in new sponsored research agreements and other valuable linkages that are sowing the seeds of long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships.

One notable recent effort of the UGA Industry Engagement team is the Industry Express program. This new program benefits industry partners by making the negotiation of research agreements a faster and more transparent process, with three options featuring well-defined terms that help eliminate uncertainty about licensing costs.

Tech Transfer Central’s Distance Learning Division has secured two of UGA’s research leaders to present this detailed, case study webinar: Thursday, June 28: Enhance University-Industry Collaboration: Case Study of UGA’s Industry Engagement Team and Industry Express Program, scheduled for June 14. You’re invited to join Crystal Leach, PhD, Director of Industry Collaborations, and Cory Acuff, PhD, Associate Director of Licensing, for an inside look at UGA’s key initiative and strategies.

For complete program details and to register, CLICK HERE.

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Incyte collaboration with Vanderbilt is all about the connection, not just funding


By David Schwartz
Published: May 15th, 2018

Research collaborations between universities and corporations are not always perfectly constructed or designed from the start. And just as a start-up company often needs to evolve, pivot, and iterate, so too do industry-academic partnerships in many cases — a point made clear by the relationship that’s growing and evolving between Vanderbilt University and Incyte Corp.

Incyte, an oncology drug discovery company, says its research relationships with academia are not necessarily pegged to a specific outcome; rather, it’s the connection itself that is of primary importance.

Incyte first announced a multi-year research support and collaboration agreement with the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2015. The company agreed to fund certain aspects of Vanderbilt’s cancer research activities as a way to “develop an improved understanding of basic cancer biology and the mechanisms of action of certain Incyte proprietary compounds.” In addition, Incyte said it hoped to “develop novel approaches to patient selection.”

Later that year, executives and researchers from Incyte huddled with Vandy investigators at a Nashville retreat, where school reps touted its large-scale phase 1 clinical trials program and the pharma company said “the competition to be the first to get to a certain point [with new therapies] is certainly higher than it has ever been.” The pair then announced a three-year grant under which researchers work together to test “several potent compounds” that appear promising for the treatment of hematologic malignancies and solid tumors. Vandy’s Michael Savona, MD, associate professor of medicine and director of the Hematology Early Therapeutics Program at VICC, is principal investigator on the grant.

Now, reports Reid Huber, PhD, Incyte’s chief scientific officer, the Vanderbilt-Incyte Research Alliance has expanded again, with a new grant program to fund qualified faculty as they study issues related to ideal therapeutic intervention points, drug resistance, and patient selection models associated with Incyte’s drug development program. 

Each project funded in the 2018 grant cycle could receive $100,000; multiple grants will be awarded and some projects will receive funding beyond the first year, based on “demonstrable progress of the proposed year one objectives.” Applicants are judged by the Vanderbilt-Incyte Research Alliance Joint Steering Committee (JSC), composed of both Vanderbilt investigators and Incyte execs, Huber notes. The steering committee’s responsibilities include:

  • setting the budget for the Alliance,
  • making sure the budget “reflects the science we’re going to accomplish,”
  • setting the research agenda and determining how it evolves from year to year,
  • sending out Requests for Proposals to identify investigators at Vanderbilt with “specific expertise and a scientific question worthy of funding.”

The grant program is a natural outgrowth of the Alliance, Huber says. “We’ve had a relationship with many of the investigators at Vanderbilt, and in ongoing discussions, we grew to realize there’s a significant overlap between our research priorities,” he comments. “That led to exploration of how we might work together to explore various aspects of cancer research, focused on making therapeutic advances, and to come up with an arrangement for Incyte to provide funding for investigators to conduct research.”

He adds: “It’s really no different than the type of funding an investigator would get from other institutions. It’s a competitive process, like other funding programs, where often only the best or the most aligned with the core vision of the funder receives the dollars.” In this case, though, “one major difference is participating investigators have access to Incyte scientists and Incyte-discovered compounds, reagents and technologies,” Huber notes. “Perhaps the unique aspect is it’s designed to bring the best and the brightest at Vanderbilt into close contact [with Incyte researchers] — in addition to the funding dollars to advance the science.”

A detailed article on the Incyte-Vanderbilt partnership appears in the April issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management. To subscribe and get the full article, along with access to the publication’s subscriber-only archive of industry partnership best practices and success strategies, CLICK HERE

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NC State becomes first North American school to establish IBM quantum computing hub


By David Schwartz
Published: May 15th, 2018

North Carolina State University will be the first in North America to establish a university-based IBM Quantum Computing hub as part of the global IBM Q Network. The hub is expected to begin operating by October. continue reading »

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Hong Kong’s PolyU launches center for big data analytics, seeks industry partners


By David Schwartz
Published: May 15th, 2018

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) recently established the University Research Facility in Big Data Analytics (UBDA), which it says is the first university-wide research facility in big data analytics among Hong Kong universities. continue reading »

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Survey of Sponsored Research Agreements between the Private Sector and Higher Education


By David Schwartz
Published: May 15th, 2018

The Survey of Sponsored Research Agreements between the Private Sector and Higher Education includes 150 pages of key data and trends based on extensive survey results from major research universities and their agreements with private sector entities.

This one-of-a-kind resource provides a rich set of benchmarks and data to compare against your own sponsored research activity. It’s jam-packed with over 180 easy-to-scan charts and figures displaying critical data you can’t find in any other publication. The report provides an in-depth look into key data so you can compare your practices and see how you stack up against other organizations — and use the data to point you to areas for improvement. For complete details, CLICK HERE >>

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Canada’s Georgian College gets investment from Alectra Inc. to open innovation center


By David Schwartz
Published: May 15th, 2018

Energy company Alectra Inc. is investing $750,000 over five years to fund a state-of-the-art research and innovation center at Georgian College, where the Ontario school’s students and faculty will work with industry partners on commercialization. continue reading »

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U of Oxford and FORMA Therapeutics in partnership to advance deubiquitinating enzyme (DUB) inhibitors as treatment for neurodegenerative diseases


By David Schwartz
Published: May 15th, 2018

Watertown, MA-based FORMA Therapeutics and the University of Oxford have entered into a collaboration and license agreement to identify, validate and develop deubiquitinating enzyme (DUB) inhibitors for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. continue reading »

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Pfizer’s ITEN fosters early research ties with university partners


By David Schwartz
Published: May 8th, 2018

Pfizer Inc. has added a collaborative drug discovery model to its academic partnerships menu, aimed at the very earliest stages of research and focused more on relationship-building than on commercializing specific new compounds. Still, the Innovative Target Exploration Network — which is expected to double from three to possibly six members this year — can accommodate sponsored research agreements, which will involve moving some of the discoveries with potential into industry-academia partnerships, while others are passed on by the drug company for researchers to pursue as they wish.

The ITEN model, says Uwe Schoenbeck, PhD, the drugmaker’s chief scientific officer for external research and development innovation, and senior vice president for worldwide R&D, is “at the earliest end of the drug development spectrum.” Individual ITENs are being built around specific promising areas of drug discovery that Pfizer has prioritized for early-stage research.

The ITENs “are not associated with broad, generic commercialization terms. Instead ITENs will handle decision making and intellectual property-related decisions in a collaborative fashion, details of which are determined on a case-by-case basis,” Schoenbeck notes. Those decisions, he emphasizes, “also consider the need for PIs to publish key findings and pursue research developing from an ITEN that Pfizer does not envision to engage on directly.”

The goal of the ITEN program is to “build the optimal sourcing strategy by allowing researchers from Pfizer and partner academic institutions — targeted globally — to share ideas for pairing academia’s cutting-edge research with industry’s translational capabilities,” he adds. The ITENs are designed “to harness ideas that provide the best fit to our priorities to underpin future drug discovery in core areas of interest.”

Under the ITEN umbrella, Pfizer envisions “a scalable network of collaborative research, which could include sponsored research agreements, in-kind contributions or other types of investments,” Schoenbeck says. That means each ITEN budget “is not fixed, but rather flexible to allow us to respond to the science generated.” It also means there are no expectations of deliverables for the participants.

Stressing that the ITEN program seeks to create “an environment of creative and agile scientific interaction,” Schoenbeck adds that Pfizer is “focused on seeking unique technology platforms and outstanding biology expertise. As ITENs are designed to be a starting point in the drug discovery process, generating novel biology insights and target hypotheses to be tested and validated in one or more of our … core areas of interest, we do not envision [limiting] the scope of each ITEN by setting a numeric goal for the program.”

The program currently involves partnerships with the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and the University of Texas Southwestern in the U.S., with additional partnerships under discussion.

The key concept is to “foster the PI-Pfizer relationship through an agreement with the institution which allows for unencumbered exchange of ideas and research,” Schoenbeck explains. Those relationships are “further enabled by a resident Pfizer scientific liaison” — called an External Scientific Innovation Lead — “between senior scientists from Pfizer and academic PIs from the institution, who facilitates discussions on research topics of mutual interest.”

A detailed article on Pfizer’s ITEN model appears in the April issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management. To subscribe and access the full article, along with the entire archive of past articles filled with best practices and practical case studies for building industry-university research partnerships, CLICK HERE.

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AbbVie and Rice University establish research accelerator to advance oncology therapies


By David Schwartz
Published: May 8th, 2018

Rice University and global biopharma company AbbVie have entered into a joint research collaboration to establish the K.C. Nicolaou Research Accelerator. The research at the Accelerator will focus on synthesizing novel cytotoxic agents for use in cancer treatment. continue reading »

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Preserving Sponsored Research Integrity: Fortifying Contractual Language and University Policy to Prevent Bias and COI


By David Schwartz
Published: May 8th, 2018

Research collaborations between universities and industry have become commonplace and often offer critical benefits to both parties, advancing potentially valuable technologies that may have otherwise been delayed or discontinued. But, these complex agreements come with great responsibility related to the integrity of research data, and the principal investigator’s ability to conduct, review and publish the research independently and without any hint of bias.

As more for-profit actors are added to the research stage, the spotlight also focuses more directly on the various conflicts of interest that can harm reputations and bring research partnerships to a screeching halt. That’s why our Distance Learning Division has secured two experts from UNeMed — the University Nebraska Medical Center’s tech transfer arm — to present this important, detailed webinar: Preserving Sponsored Research Integrity: Fortifying Contractual Language and University Policy to Prevent Bias and COI, scheduled for May 29.

This critical program will dive into best practices that universities can draw upon to ensure the integrity of their corporate-sponsored research through carefully drafted contractual language as well as optimal compliance and COI policies.

For complete details and to register, CLICK HERE.

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U Manchester and Nanoco launch start-up to develop new nanomaterials


By David Schwartz
Published: May 8th, 2018

Universities often see commercialization strategy as a binary choice between a start-up or working with an existing company via research and/or license agreements. The University of Manchester and Nanoco Group PLC are taking a third route, working together to create a start-up — Nanoco 2D Materials Ltd — to develop a new generation of nanomaterials. continue reading »

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