Industry-Sponsored Research Week
Industry-Sponsored Research Management

Sponsors, research managers encouraged to consider incentives for data reproducibility


By David Schwartz
Published: July 18th, 2017

It’s an embarrassing problem for university research managers, most of whom have experienced it more than a few times. When a research sponsor pays a hefty price and receives either outright failure of the research or results that can’t be reproduced, it can not only cause friction but may cost future partnerships and funding. Essentially, the deal becomes “lose-lose,” with sponsors losing their cash and both parties potentially losing what might otherwise be a valuable long-term collaboration.

Last year a former executive with giant drug maker Merck & Co. floated an idea to help overcome this problem, proposing that research agreements provide for refunds of funding when studies go awry or can’t be replicated — and incentive payments when they can.

There don’t appear to be any examples — yet — of industry sponsors offering, or universities accepting, the kind of financial incentives controversially proposed by Michael Rosenblatt, MD, who was then executive vice president and chief medical officer at Merck. And there’s little apparent support for his specific notion about sponsors getting their money back when research results aren’t what they were anticipating. But while academic researchers may bristle at the notion of any questioning, or quantifying, of the “quality” of their data, some university attorneys are less than hostile to the notion of efforts — including those involving more or less money on the table — to improve the reproducibility of research results. That, Rosenblatt says, was his intent all along.

“Most people were positive about the article, and hopeful that academia and industry would pilot new ideas and models for research collaborations,” says Rosenblatt, who is now CMO at Flagship Ventures, which operates as a scientific cofounder of and business partner to new ventures. “Although academia-industry collaborations represent only a minor portion of the biomedical research enterprise,” he adds, “they occupy a crucially important and visible position along the translational pathway toward new therapies.”

The problem, as he wrote in “An incentive-based approach for improving data reproducibility” in Science Translational Medicine, is this: “Industry expends and universities collect funding, even when the original data cannot be reproduced. In the instance of failure, collaborations dissolve, with resulting opportunity loss for both academia and industry.”

“There are many reasons data isn’t reproducible,” Rosenblatt says. “Sometimes it’s because the datasets are not robust enough, or due to a variation of reagents in the procedure or flawed methodology.” In the article, he also listed “pressures to publish papers or secure grants, criteria for career advancement, deficiencies in training and non-rigorous reviews and journal practices.”

He adds, importantly: “Very, very rarely is it due to outright fraud.” So it stands to reason that double-checking and retesting before attempting to contract with industry “would be a good way to ensure that the data can be reproduced by others,” he comments. “Of course, there will likely always be a margin of error, but making the effort would have an impact.”

Other remedies proposed thus far — “more rigorous methods, standards, statistical analysis and training and changes in evaluation for promotion and tenure” — all “prescribe specific treatments without an effector mechanism,” he noted in the article, making it doubtful they will be “timely or sufficient.”

Instead, he offered this approach to diminishing irreproducible data as a roadblock to effective academia-industry collaborations: “What if universities stand behind the research data that lead to collaborative agreements with industry, and what if industry provides a financial incentive for data that can be replicated? What if universities offered some form of full or partial money-back guarantee? With such assurance, companies could proceed with a project more rapidly and more frequently. They would also be likely to pay a premium over current rates for data backed by such assurance over ‘nonguaranteed’ data, even from the same university.”

A detailed article on the proposal and the reaction to it among research managers appears in the July issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management. To subscribe and access the complete article – and get the charter subscription rate of just $297 (a $100 discount), CLICK HERE.

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Texas A&M Transportation Institute attracts industry sponsors


By David Schwartz
Published: July 18th, 2017

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) is helping turn the new satellite campus into what its developers envisioned – a high-tech, multi-institution center for research, testing, and workforce development partnering with private industry. continue reading »

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Marketing Strategies that Attract and Engage Industry Partners


By David Schwartz
Published: July 18th, 2017

Seeking out and establishing industry partnerships shouldn’t wait until an innovation is patented — it should start at disclosure, and the marketing opportunities and efforts must continue to evolve with the technology through the pipeline. Re-evaluating the market space at critical intervals during the evolution of the technology, and involving multiple parties, dramatically increases your chances of getting your innovations to the marketplace.

That’s why we’ve scheduled a targeted, practical webinar program that will provide you with a wealth of how-to advice on developing your marketing strategies to attract and secure solid, long-term industry partnerships.

Technology Transfer Tactics’ Distance Learning Division is partnering with two in-the-trenches experts from Emory University’s Office of Technology Transfer – Marketing Manager Quentin Thomas and Assistant Director of Licensing Cliff Michaels – to share their best practices for attracting lucrative corporate sponsorship agreements. Join them on August 10 for Marketing Strategies that Attract and Engage Industry Partners.

For complete program details and to register, CLICK HERE.

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Oxford U research deal with health IoT company builds on earlier license agreement


By David Schwartz
Published: July 18th, 2017

Oxford University and Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) have signed a five-year strategic research agreement with Drayson Technologies around healthcare Internet of Things and other digital technologies. The new deal builds on an exclusive licensing agreement announced earlier this year, under which the organizations are working together on the development, testing and future commercialization of three digital health products. continue reading »

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Max Planck Innovation and Lead Discovery Centre enter cancer research collaboration with Daiichi Sankyo


By David Schwartz
Published: July 18th, 2017

Max Planck Innovation – the tech transfer arm of Germany’s Max Planck Society — and its Lead Discovery Centre have signed an agreement with Japanese pharma company Daiichi Sankyo, providing Daiichi Sankyo with the option to exclusively license a new lead compound for the treatment of cancer to be discovered and developed at the Lead Discovery Centre. continue reading »

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Managing Conflicts of Interest in the Commercialization of University Research


By David Schwartz
Published: July 18th, 2017

Managing conflicts of interest (COIs) between funding sources, faculty researchers, and the start-ups they create is always a tough challenge for tech transfer, sponsored research, and compliance offices that requires much coordination and careful handling. Although tech transfer and research managers recognize that conflicts are a given during the process of transferring IP either through a license agreement, spinout, or partnership, managing and mitigating those COIs is a seemingly never ending battle — and it’s fraught with danger not only for the university, but also for its faculty.

That’s why we’re created the three-session distance learning collection Managing Conflicts of Interest in the Commercialization of University Research, to provide a solid set of guidelines and proven strategies to ensure COI issues related to commercialization activity are addressed effectively. These three programs are included in the collection:

  • Blurred Lines and Gray Areas: Managing Conflicts of Interest in University Tech Transfer and Sponsored Research
  • Ensuring Compliance with Financial Conflict of Interest Regs
  • Best Practices for Managing Conflicts of Interest in Faculty Start Ups

For complete program and faculty details, or to order, CLICK HERE >>

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University consortium and industry unite in £92 million UK railway research partnership


By David Schwartz
Published: July 18th, 2017

A partnership between the rail supply industry and a consortium of eight universities has secured is pulling in £92 million to fund research aimed at establishing the UK as a world-leading center of excellence for railway technologies. continue reading »

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IP concerns shouldn’t be a deal breaker in open innovation partnerships


By David Schwartz
Published: July 11th, 2017

Researchers can rest assured that corporate sponsors’ increasing embrace of open innovation (OI) is not a ploy to steal their intellectual property. Indeed, both academia and industry emphasize that what takes place under multi-institution collaborations flying the OI flag is operationally similar to traditional university inquiry — because “open innovation” is essentially the way academic researchers have operated all along.

For industry, though, OI does represent real change: an up-front effort to expand innovation pipelines. All academia needs to do, both sides stress, is relax a little about the IP aspect and approach OI with an open mind.

It isn’t new, but its growing popularity among industry is. Basically, OI refers to companies looking outside their own R&D labs to see what other innovators are up to; if external entities have what they’re looking for, as research universities often do, the two sides work together to develop the innovation. For large companies with multi-pronged, dense development operations, many universities may be involved — indeed, some OI collaborations number in the hundreds — each sharing information with the company or companies and with each other.

“The interesting thing about these,” says Jon Soderstrom, PhD, managing director at the Yale University Office of Cooperative Research, “is, because of changes in the patent laws from the America Invents Act and recent court decisions on the level of data needed to get a valid claim, a lot of this research is not patentable anyway.” He adds: “Truly, knowledge is being created, but the real invention is going to occur later, ‘in industry,’ as opposed to ‘in the university.’ We supply the basic science. The invention, the reduction to practice as a novel and useful product, often happens later, and may be the subject of a sponsored research agreement.”

Marta Piñeiro-Núñez, PhD, executive director of the Open Innovation Drug Discovery program at Eli Lilly and Co., emphasizes that any university-created IP is safe when the collaborations are properly structured. “Our contracts spell out a major principle: Innovators retain ownership of their IP,” she says. “We get to access OI collaborators’ ideas to evaluate or test them to see if there’s interest for Lilly. If not, the ideas go right back to the innovators, fully owned by them” — including any results generated from the research conducted with Lilly. “We don’t own the IP,” she stresses. “We provide all of the development capabilities at risk.” If Lilly isn’t interested, she adds, “we hope the data benefits the researcher, and that he or she publishes and successfully shops the invention around.”

Piñeiro-Núñez says the success of OI collaborations depends largely on establishing trust-based relationships. Lilly’s OIDD is a web-based platform, and program participants now number more than 700 individual investigators, she explains, but “the human component is still tangible. It’s very much like when you friend somebody on Facebook. You’ve got to trust who you’re friending. There’s quite a bit of that old-fashioned trust at play here.”

She says Lilly recognized the need to facilitate researcher trust right away. “When we started to talk to external parties, [skepticism among researchers] was a concern,” she reports. “They said, ‘What is Lilly going to do with my stuff? Why should I trust you?’” So she designed the OIDD program with “a lot of transparency. We maintain clear lines of communication, and we explain very plainly how information is used.” Did Lilly do enough? University participation in the OIDD program speaks for itself, she says.

A detailed article on the growth of open innovation partnerships between industry and universities appears in the July issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management. To get the full article and subscribe at the introductory price of just $297 (a $100 savings), CLICK HERE.

DON’T MISS THESE ARTICLES IN THE JULY ISSUE OF INDUSTRY-SPONSORED RESEARCH MANAGEMENT:

  • IP concerns shouldn’t be a deal breaker in open innovation partnerships.
  • Sponsors, research managers encouraged to consider incentives for data reproducibility.
  • UGA’s strategies bring progress in goal to boost industry sponsorships.
  • Philips, Pitt collaboration features internships, open innovation.
  • Chicago’s new Connectory will facilitate research deals with IoT focus.
  • Industry sponsors a focus of Penn State’s new ‘industryXchange’ series.

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In Purdue’s biggest-ever collaboration, Lilly ponies up $52 million for life sciences research


By David Schwartz
Published: July 11th, 2017

Pharma giant Eli Lilly and Company and Purdue University have entered into a large-scale, five-year strategic collaboration to conduct life science research that will be worth up to $52 million to the Indiana school. The deal marks Purdue’s largest strategic collaboration with a single company. continue reading »

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Opportunities and Pitfalls in Joint Development and Patent Licensing under the AIA


By David Schwartz
Published: July 11th, 2017

The America Invents Act created new benefits — but also some unexpected traps — in the patent laws surrounding university-industry collaborations. One key change involves carve-outs for “prior art” that would otherwise invalidate a patent. For example, the work of a “joint inventor” will be disregarded as prior art in certain circumstances. Likewise, an earlier-filed application does not count as prior art against a later-filed application if both applications were commonly owned (e.g., through a joint venture or partnership) at the time the second application was filed. This same prior-art avoidance can be achieved by entering into a “joint research agreement” without formally assigning ownership of the patent.

On the other hand, applicants must be aware of some traps in the law that can jeopardize the validity of patents. Filing an application in the name of the owner (as opposed to the inventor) may forfeit priority rights to a provisional application. Also, the Patent Office and the courts disagree whether a secret offer to sell the invention will be treated as prior art against the patent.

There’s much to consider, and Tech Transfer Central’s Distance Learning Division has scheduled a practical webinar will clarify the risks and benefits facing universities and their industry partners seeking to license jointly developed innovations. Join us on August 3rd for Opportunities and Pitfalls in Joint Development and Patent Licensing under the AIA.

For complete program and faculty details, CLICK HERE.

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TEC Edmonton partnering with Merck Canada Inc. on health start-up incubator


By David Schwartz
Published: July 11th, 2017

TEC Edmonton and pharmaceutical company Merck Canada Inc. are partnering to create a business incubator connecting Alberta-based health technology companies to the pharma company’s health research expertise. The goal is to create an accessible entry point for health-focused start-up companies to connect with industry and Alberta’s healthcare system. continue reading »

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Mount Sinai renews research deal with Pfizer


By David Schwartz
Published: July 11th, 2017

 The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Pfizer Inc.’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI) have renewed an agreement designed to identify and advance new drug candidates linked to major diseases, such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, colitis, heart failure, Alzheimer’s disease, and cystic fibrosis. continue reading »

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