Industry-Sponsored Research Week
Industry-Sponsored Research Management

Industry partnerships coming in more varieties as universities gain leverage


By David Schwartz
Published: March 14th, 2017

Examples of innovative sponsored research arrangements between universities and corporations are increasingly common. One veteran tech transfer executive says that’s at least in part a function of the corporate side of the equation improving its input into the collaborations.

“This may not make me overly popular in some circles,” comments Larry Hope, associate director of new ventures and business development at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC), Houston, “but for years, industry was arguably abusive to academic partners.” He explains: “Significant research efforts were built around ‘free drugs’ or ‘free equipment’ models, where industry would provide minimal support and negotiate to own or otherwise encumber all intellectual property developed. Most academic scientists were willing victims in the scheme.”

Many, he says, “considered this sort of arrangement a ‘win.’ There are certainly times when this arrangement can make sense, when coupled with true research funds to support the work. But it is not the preferred model. In fact, ‘free drugs’ has become a bit of a joke with our team. We simply will not engage in these sorts of lopsided relationships.”

Instead, he adds, corporate sponsors are increasingly on board with what he terms “an ideal relationship,” which “involves truly aligned views of the project, the goals and the economics. Usually, an outside company has developed or is developing something truly unique. If it does not recognize that the MDACC is also making a unique and valuable contribution to the project, the relationship is likely doomed.” He adds: “Most of our modern deals have a research phase with predetermined commercialization economics.”

And his institution has a lot of those “modern deals.” MDACC, he says, is involved “in many on several fronts.” Models vary, but include these:

  • large multi-year, multi-product clinical trials;
  • start-ups that sponsor a significant portion of research back to the institution in the early years;
  • asset LLCs run in a very capital-efficient, virtual mode while assets are being de-risked; and
  • large collaborative deals that include a preclinical phase, a clinical phase and license/commercialization economics, all negotiated on the front end.

A variation on the theme is “a marriage of outside IP with MDACC IP/expertise with predetermined economics,” Hope adds. In general, he stresses, “industry-sponsored research is highly encouraged by our senior administration,” which “has literally removed barriers and brought in individuals with a more proactive, entrepreneurial mindset to allow the institution and our group to flourish.”

And here’s why, he emphasizes: “There are brilliant scientists and clinicians at MDACC. They are great at inventing and getting to a proof-of-concept stage. But, in general, we simply do not have the ability to complete the development cycle. An outside commercial entity must be involved at some point to provide focus and funds to move most projects forward efficiently.”

One recent example is what Baylor College of Medicine termed its “landmark sponsored research collaboration” with Cell Medica. The deal, according to a Baylor statement, represents “a significant milestone in efforts to develop a new class of life-saving cancer therapy.”

Under the arrangement, Baylor provided Cell Medica with an exclusive worldwide license to its proprietary Natural Killer T-cell immunotherapy platform, five undisclosed product candidates and an option to license additional product candidates arising out of sponsored research, reports Andrew Wooten, executive director at Baylor’s Innovation Development Center (IDC). Baylor is responsible for pre-clinical and Phase I studies, he adds, and Cell Medica is responsible for Phase II and Phase III clinical development and subsequent commercialization. In parallel, Cell Medica will “use its substantial experience in manufacturing clinical-grade cell therapies to establish robust production processes suitable for industrial scale-up,” the statement adds.

“We felt very strongly that our interests are best served by staying involved in development through Phase I studies,” Wooten notes. He helped structure the co-development collaboration and will oversee Baylor’s alliance management function. “Cell Medica recognized that we have excellent facilities and translational research capabilities within the Department of Pediatrics and the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy to perform this work. At the same time, we recognized our need for a focused commercial partner to help guide these early-stage activities. And obviously we need a partner to take over later-stage development, manufacturing and commercialization.”

That’s why the deal structure — which he calls “a complex relationship” that “takes advantages of each partner’s strengths” — is “embodied in multiple agreements, including a license and option agreement, a co-development agreement and multiple specific industrial research agreements.”

This complete article appears in the April issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management. To subscribe and access the full article, or request the premiere issue free, CLICK HERE

Time is running out on our $100-off charter subscription offer – order by March 31 for only $297 and get three distance learning programs free!

DON’T MISS THIS CHARTER OFFER FOR INDUSTRY-SPONSORED RESEARCH MANAGEMENT, the all-new publication focused on attracting and managing corporate-sponsored research agreements. Save $100 and get the distance learning collection “Best Practices in Forming and Managing Industry-University Partnerships” (a $397 value) FREE! Click here for full details >>

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Rosalind Franklin University to build a $50 million Innovation and Research Park


By David Schwartz
Published: March 14th, 2017

Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science will invest $50 million in a new Innovation and Research Park on its North Chicago campus, the university announced. The park will offer state-of-the-art research labs and incubator space for faculty and commercial biotech start-ups. The expansion will also include space for national and international life science firms. continue reading »

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EAR/ITAR Compliance Workshop: Understanding and Managing Export Control in University Research and Technology Transfer


By David Schwartz
Published: March 14th, 2017

One of the most challenging elements of export control for university research and tech transfer offices is dealing with the transition of controls over technology and technical data. Under U.S. export control regulations, many common university research practices could put you at risk of thousands of dollars in civil or criminal fines or debarment from federal contracts if you haven’t received a “Deemed Export” or technology transfer license.

EAR/ITAR Compliance Workshop: Understanding and Managing Export Control in University Research and Technology Transfer, scheduled for March 23, is an interactive webinar that will review the EAR/ITAR regulations and discuss key definitions of terms related to deemed exports.

Additionally, you will learn about how to establish procedures that ensure you are informed of potential issues early on, allowing you to work with researchers and the export control office to manage them effectively. And at the bottom line, you’ll learn critical steps needed to make certain you can commercialize valuable IP without the threat of noncompliance.

Join expert Kay Ellis, MHR, director of the export control program with the University of Arizona, for this practical and essential webinar – for complete details and to register, CLICK HERE.

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Boehringer Ingelheim expands collaboration with Vanderbilt U to tackle difficult-to-treat cancers 


By David Schwartz
Published: March 14th, 2017

Vanderbilt University has inked a new collaboration with drug giant Boehringer Ingelheim. The multi-year program expands on an already existing collaboration by focusing on developing small molecule compounds targeting the protein SOS (Son Of Sevenless). This molecule activates KRAS, a molecular switch that plays a central role in the onset of some of the deadliest cancers. continue reading »

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Simon Fraser U in collaboration agreement with Nano One Materials


By David Schwartz
Published: March 14th, 2017

Canada’s Simon Fraser University has entered a collaboration with Nano One Materials Corp. focused on improving the performance of lithium ion battery technologies. continue reading »

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Now available: The Tech Transfer-Economic Development Connection


By David Schwartz
Published: March 14th, 2017

The Tech Transfer-Economic Development Connection: Strategies for Creating Jobs and Economic Growth through University Innovation is now available from 2Market Information Inc., the parent company of Industry-Sponsored Research Week and Industry-Sponsored Research Management.

This 45-page resource is chock-full of creative strategies for bolstering your university’s economic development engine. You’ll discover proven success strategies for integrating and partnering with local and regional economic agencies, plus learn how to measure and demonstrate the economic impact of your innovation efforts. The new report is packed with in-depth strategies and case studies designed to help your TTO bolster its economic impact and promote its results. For complete details or to order for just $99, CLICK HERE >>

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South Korean universities lead way on industry collaboration


By David Schwartz
Published: March 14th, 2017

New data released by Times Higher Education puts a spotlight on the universities worldwide with the highest proportions of research output completed with industry partnerships, and South Korean universities are among the world leaders. continue reading »

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PayPal Europe helps fund FinTech research chair at U of Luxembourg


By David Schwartz
Published: March 14th, 2017

PayPal Europe, the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) and the University of Luxembourg signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreeing to create of a FNR PEARL chair focused on the booming FinTech field. The chair, approved for an initial five years, will be jointly supported by PayPal and the FNR, and hosted at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) of the University of Luxembourg. continue reading »

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Jumpstart industry-sponsored research by reducing IP-related barriers


By David Schwartz
Published: March 7th, 2017

If your university’s industry-sponsored research efforts are not quite getting the traction you expected, it might be time to adjust your IP-related policies – which many corporations view as barriers to a deal.

Not too long ago, the University of Minnesota was in that position, having experienced five to six years in a row of “pretty much flat growth in industry-sponsored research even though a number of Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area,” points out Jay Schrankler, executive director of the Office for Technology Commercialization in St. Paul.

Making IP terms more favorable for industry is tantamount to reducing their risk, which often forms the fulcrum of a company’s decision making on research investments. “Reducing the commercialization risk for companies should make them more open to engaging in sponsored research,” says Lisa Lorenzen, PhD, executive director of the Iowa State University Research Foundation.

Two years ago the University of Iowa and ISU jointly announced that both universities would tackle the IP issue by offering for-profit companies an exclusive licensing option for research sponsorships. The new option is modeled after Minnesota Innovation Partnerships (MN-IP), a program launched by U Minnesota to “attract more companies to do research here by eliminating or lowering that barrier of IP concerns,” says Schrankler.

Minnesota designed its program based on the results of multiple interviews with industry, and reaction has been “very positive,” he states. “Under MN-IP, we signed more than 40 agreements in a year, and a number of big companies have done master research agreements in the program.”

Both Iowa and ISU are already talking to companies that are interested in executing deals. However, reaction “has honestly been mixed,” says Lorenzen. “Some companies seem pretty excited. However, others have done enough research that they know the type of research they do here typically doesn’t have a lot of IP potential,” she explains. “For those companies, I hope this new option can open their eyes to other types of research that they could do here now because there isn’t that risk. But evolving the kinds of research they can do will take time.”

Here’s how the exclusive licensing option works:

  1. An upfront fee. “Basically the sponsor is paying a small upfront fee that guarantees a back-end fixed set of fees,” explains Zev Sunleaf, executive director of the University of Iowa Research Foundation in Iowa City. That initial fee is the greater of 10% of the total cost of the research or $15,000.
  2. A fixed royalty rate. On the back end, the royalty rate for licensed IP is 1% of total net sales in any year where sales exceed $20 million. Putting the threshold at $20 million “gives companies a chance to generate sales before they have to start paying a royalty rate,” says Schrankler. “So they get some cost recovery from their development work.” In addition, the fixed 1% rate allows TTOs to “incentivize research, yet share if we have a big winner,” says Lorenzen.
  3. Ownership determined by invention. “If our principal investigators (PIs) alone invent a technology, we own the IP. If people from both the University of Iowa and the company invent a technology, the IP would be jointly owned,” notes Sunleaf. “So in that respect, there’s no difference from standard licensing.”
  4. License guarantee. “Should there ever be an invention that comes out of the research, the company gets an automatic exclusive license to it, and the company does the patent prosecution,” says Schrankler.
  5. Limited availability. The exclusive licensing option “doesn’t work in as many cases as the old tried-and-true licensing option,” says Sunleaf. “This only relates to research that is wholly funded with full F&A [facilities and administrative] rates paid by a single sponsor. For example, it doesn’t relate to federally funded research or research where there is income or sponsorship coming from multiple groups.”

The exclusive licensing research option “is an additional tool to use where it makes sense,” says Sunleaf. A detailed article on industry-friendly terms in sponsored research agreements appears in the premiere issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management. To subscribe and access the full article, or request the premiere issue free, CLICK HERE

Time is running out on our $100-off charter subscription offer – order by March 31 for only $297 and get three distance learning programs free!

DON’T MISS THIS CHARTER OFFER FOR INDUSTRY-SPONSORED RESEARCH MANAGEMENT, the all-new publication focused on attracting and managing corporate-sponsored research agreements. Save $100 and get the distance learning collection “Best Practices in Forming and Managing Industry-University Partnerships” (a $397 value) FREE! Click here for full details >>

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Rhode Island building an Innovation Campus to bring industry and university research together


By David Schwartz
Published: March 7th, 2017

Rhode Island is embarking on a major development project to build an Innovation Campus serving the state. The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation (RICC), in partnership with the University of Rhode Island (URI), will requesting RFPs from potential partners organizations this summer to develop, program and occupy the Innovation Campus. continue reading »

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Webinar workshop: Determining Inventorship for University IP


By David Schwartz
Published: March 7th, 2017

While filing a patent involving sole inventorship is a breeze, it’s rarely the case in the university setting. Joint inventorship is more common, and it is necessary to evaluate whether the contribution of each individual in the lab — including students and post-docs — constitutes inventive activity according to the Patent Act.

Even more complexity arises when researchers and labs from more than one institution are involved, or when a scientist with a corporate partner has contributed to the innovation. Things can start to get sticky, egos get bruised, and relationships with key inventors and partners can get damaged. Additionally, incorrectly determining inventorship can lead to patenting and commercialization delays and huge, costly legal headaches.

That’s why our Distance Learning Division has partnered with Sherry L. Murphy from the law firm Myers Bigel for a critical, detailed webinar that will help you and your staff fully understand the parameters of each type of inventorship and avoid the damaging consequences of inventorship disputes. Join us on March 16th for Determining Inventorship for University IP. For complete program details and to register, CLICK HERE.

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Amazon launches Alexa Fund Fellowship to support university research on voice technology


By David Schwartz
Published: March 7th, 2017

Amazon is funding a series of fellowships for university researchers focused on unlocking the potential of voice technology, which has become more visible in part through Amazon’s Echo device and its Alexa voice service. continue reading »

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