Tech Transfer eNews Blog
Technology Transfer Tactics sample issue

New model of university-industry collaboration relies on systematic start-up creation


By David Schwartz
Published: May 25th, 2016

A new model of industry-academia collaboration being applied by a pharmaceutical giant is very rapidly turning university innovations into start-up companies — and in many cases just as quickly shutting the start-up down if the technology fails to reach early milestones. And it’s launching these test beds for early-stage discoveries outside traditional technology transfer operations.

Interestingly, the tech transfer exec at one school where the drug company-sponsored program is in place says it actually fixes some of the frustrations with traditional tech transfer. Indeed, she says it’s the “most brilliant” program she’s ever experienced. Even better, other universities should be able to replicate the successful program fairly easily.

The novel arrangement accelerates technology transfer through systematic “NewCo” formation. In place since 2011, the GlaxoSmithKline plc program partners the drugmaker with academic institutions in what it calls “Discovery Partnerships with Academia,” or DPAc.

Part of the DPAc model involves a separate partnership between GSK and California-based venture capital firm Avalon Ventures, which invests in the start-ups alongside GSK and helps move them forward. Avalon finds the technology, provides management, and ensures the fledgling companies meet their milestones. If the start-ups hit their milestones and appear to hold real promise for the drug maker, GSK then pays Avalon an acquisition fee up to a maximum of $50 million.

For its part, GSK provides most of the initial investment — up to $10 million — to establish and fund the start-ups, and also lends its expertise in drug development and clinical testing, which is often lacking in NewCos, notes Carolyn Buser-Doepner, PhD, who heads the DPAc initiative for GSK. The NewCos are each located within the affiliated incubator of COI Pharmaceuticals, based in La Jolla, CA.

“Why does this make sense?” she asks. “It’s almost too obvious. Universities have academics who are very focused on their disease of interest. Pharma has the expertise to develop medicines. Combine the two with one end goal.”

Avalon plays a key role, notes Jay Lichter, PhD, CEO and president at COI. “This is a financial instrument, there’s no question about that,” he says. “It’s all about company creation.”

After Avalon identifies a novel innovation for potential creation of a new company, GSK and

Avalon jointly perform diligence. Avalon establishes the NewCo, negotiates all licenses for it, and launches product development. “We give it a name,” Lichter says, “and a little bit of a brand.” The initial infrastructure, staffing and oversight are provided by COI, he adds, in careful collaboration with GSK scientists. There are pre-set terms for investment and acquisition by GSK at the clinical candidate stage.

All the individual pieces are familiar to tech transfer professionals, but the overall structure may not be. “The DPAc model is very different from most types of industry-academic interactions negotiated by TTOs,” Buser-Doepner says. “The structure of a DPAc agreement is a hybrid between an academic collaboration and licensing agreement.” A detailed article on the DPAc model of industry-university collaboration appears in the May issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the full article, and also gain access to the publication’s 9-year archive of best practices, case studies, and TTO success strategies, CLICK HERE.

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IBM, Facebook, and other industry giants team up for patent purchasing program


By David Schwartz
Published: May 25th, 2016

A group of industry giants including IBM, Facebook, Ford and Cisco are opening a portal where universities and other innovators can sell their patents — but the clock is ticking. continue reading »

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Strengthening Relationships and Collaboration between Sponsored Research and Technology Transfer Offices


By David Schwartz
Published: May 25th, 2016

Technology Transfer and Sponsored Research Offices may have different responsibilities, but the end goal is the same: to bring university-based innovations from the lab to the marketplace. Too often, however, the two offices operate in separate silos, or even worse in a somewhat adversarial relationship characterized by friction and mistrust. The result is missed opportunities for both offices to build deeper and more substantial industry relationships. A growing number of forward-thinking universities have recognized the problem, taking concrete and significant steps to bring the two offices into synch and build a collaborative, business-building relationship that provides critical benefits for both TTOs and SROs.

The University of Iowa is a perfect case in point. They’ve successfully brought these two groups of professionals together, improved their relationship, reduced friction, and created a more seamless experience for industry partners. By building a supportive atmosphere between the TTO and SRO, they’re building better corporate relationships as well, leading to deeper and more significant engagement. That’s why we’ve asked a team from U Iowa them to share their experience and strategies with you in this one-hour distance learning event: Strengthening Relationships and Collaboration between Sponsored Research and Technology Transfer Offices, scheduled for June 15.

For complete details and to register, CLICK HERE.

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U.S. universities lash out at proposed State Department rule that would bar foreign students from research related to national security


By David Schwartz
Published: May 25th, 2016

A number of leading U.S. universities are opposing a proposed State Department policy that would keep foreign students from participating in research projects and classes involving information seen as vital to national security. continue reading »

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Harvard inks royalty-free license for HIV drug resistance test designed to help developing nations


By David Schwartz
Published: May 25th, 2016

Harvard University has licensed a technology to early-stage diagnostics company Aldatu Biosciences that may help clinicians determine the best-suited medication for individual patients with HIV. continue reading »

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Low-cost access to ktMINE royalty rate database available under new partnership


By David Schwartz
Published: May 25th, 2016

Through a new partnership between ktMINE and 2Market Information Inc., publisher of Tech Transfer eNews, readers now have access to ktMINE’s incredibly powerful royalty rate and license agreement database — without paying thousands of dollars or committing to an ongoing, costly agreement. Under the partnership’s 1-Day Pass program, you can get access to the same data used by governments, tax authorities, and major corporations worldwide for just $495. Here’s what you get with a 24-hour pass to the ktMINE royalty rate and license agreement database:

  • Unlimited access to 100,000+ license agreements and more than 60,000 royalty rates
  • Connect royalty rates with the license agreements they relate to as well as the companies in the market space you’re researching
  • Take your analysis offline with up to 25 data exports into Excel
  • Save full-text agreements directly to your computer
  • Create your own alert setting that will be monitored up to 90 after your 1-day pass is activated

For complete details on the One-Day Pass, CLICK HERE.

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U Chicago using $50M gift to establish one-stop-shop commercialization hub


By David Schwartz
Published: May 25th, 2016

The University of Chicago is establishing a new, unified center that will combine formerly separate programs in entrepreneurship education, venture creation, and research commercialization under a single roof. continue reading »

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U of Birmingham (UK) launches £5 million fund to double start-up activity


By David Schwartz
Published: May 25th, 2016

The University of Birmingham, UK, has kicked off a £5 million (over $7.2M) fund to double the number of start-ups launched within five years. continue reading »

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Why (and how) good, clear writing is important to patent applications


By David Schwartz
Published: May 25th, 2016

In his recent post for IP Watchdog, Russ Krajec, CEO of patent finance company BlueIron, urges inventors and attorneys not to file patent applications that are too complicated, filled with unintelligible legalese. Focusing on clear, understandable writing is more important than most IP professionals think, he says. continue reading »

Drafting Patent License Agreements, 8th Edition

This desk reference identifies problematic language in patent license agreements and illustrates how to tailor contract wording to accomplish your goals. Click here for details >>

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Mayo Clinic looks to Israel for investment and collaboration opportunities with health care start-ups


By David Schwartz
Published: May 25th, 2016

Mayo Clinic Ventures, the commercialization arm of the Mayo Clinic, is launching a new program to boost collaborations and investments in Israel. continue reading »

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U Dayton partners with Vietnamese start-up competition


By David Schwartz
Published: May 25th, 2016

A new partnership has been struck between the University of Dayton and HATCH! BATTLE Junior, a leading start-up competition in Vietnam. The deal opens U Dayton’s start-up competition to college students in Vietnam and offers them the chance to win money and support for their business ideas. Ho Chi Minh City is the third location for added to university’s international Business Plan Competition, which awards $65,000 in cash prizes at the final round in Dayton. continue reading »

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To grow more valuable start-ups, focus on scaling up from day one


By David Schwartz
Published: May 18th, 2016

With all the work, resources, and expertise required to form a start-up, it can be easy to forget that you haven’t crossed the finish line and really have only begun the race. The real challenge comes when it is time to scale up, to grow the start-up into a business with value and substance.

Universities have more trouble with scaling than with forming start-ups, says Gearoid Mooney, manager of the Research & Innovation Division with Enterprise Ireland, one of the world’s biggest seed investors by number of investments. Many promising university start-ups never progress because they can’t clear the hurdle of scaling up, he says. That is true even among the companies supported by Enterprise Ireland. Of the 4,500 companies in Enterprise Ireland’s portfolio, Mooney says only about 200 are what would be considered large companies.

Enterprise Ireland encourages academic spin-outs at the earliest stages to think beyond the initial start-up and consider how their project can be taken to a larger scale. The group also gets involved much earlier in the process than most other investors or development partners.

“When academics make a good case for what the commercial scope may be and what it would take to produce a viable product, we’ll actually fund it at 100% for a year or more before they ever do the spin-out, in order to de-risk the project and make it investable,” Mooney says. “We go in way before seed.”

The potential for a successful scale-up is a key factor in determining which projects deserve this early commitment, Mooney notes. The typical investment in a project varies by sector, but it usually is in the range of €200,000 to €600,000. Enterprise Ireland has been investing this way for 10 years, and most of the companies that went on to scale beyond the initial start-up started out with that initial de-risking strategy.

A detailed article on the importance of considering scale-up potential as well as key strategies for achieving scale-up appears in the May issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the full article, along with the subscriber-only archive containing hundreds of case studies, best practices, and success strategies for TTOs, CLICK HERE.

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