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UC-Irvine, diagnostics firm form “unique” relationship in new collaboration


By David Schwartz
Published: October 9th, 2018

Press releases about new and different discoveries or strategies often contain the word “unique,” and those accustomed to reading them learn to take the claim with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, representatives of the University of California-Irvine and Beckman Coulter Diagnostics, Inc., make a good case that the relationship they have established is distinctly different from other corporate/university collaborations.

“We and our broader parent, the Danaher Corporation, wanted Beckman Coulter’s academic relationships to be a little more than us giving them money and them giving us IP,” says Fiona Adair, PhD, vice president of strategy and innovation. “We really wanted to create more of an in-depth relationship.”

So Beckman Coulter created a “short list” of universities they thought had research and IP activity in areas broadly of interest to them and started to meet with them. “It’s easy to identify academic institutions active in those areas, but it’s harder to find those with an appetite to truly collaborate and see the value we could bring to the relationship — knowledge of markets, trends in healthcare, and at the same time someone who really had mechanisms for cutting edge research and encouraging start-ups with their students.”

“We’ve had a longstanding relationship with them through an NSF Center on campus, but they were looking for a next-level of engagement with a university and we were also looking to engage industry in a deeper alliance — not just interaction-based — so the timing was perfect,” adds Nancy Kim Yun, senior director of strategic collaborations for UCI Applied Innovation, the school’s commercialization arm.

Carolyn Stephens, associate director of UCI Applied Innovation, notes that the partnership is focusing on broad access to research at the university. “We are now a portal to help Beckman Coulter access a wider reach of university research,” she explains. UCI is the first of several such partners Beckman Coulter hopes to select.

One of the unique aspects of the relationship is that Beckman Coulter will be “living” on campus — in fact, as a “neighbor” of UCI Applied Innovation. Beckman will join AI as a resident of “The Cove,” a 48,000 square foot collection of technological facilities and office space that serves as the headquarters of Applied Innovation. “We will be placing one of our associates into UCI’s Cove, starting off on a three-month period with someone rotating through 12 months,” notes Adair. “We will have a seat in their innovation center – truly be partners.”

Of all the aspects of the partnership, she says this is “one of my favorites. They hold all kinds of different events at The Cove — conferences, students making pitches — it’s a very dynamic place. Having a person there gives us a way to sit and be seen and interact in a day-to-day way.”

A detailed article on the UCI-Beckman Coulter partnership appears in the September issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management. To subscribe and get the full article, along with the publication’s complete archive of case studies and best practices focused on building strong industry partnerships and engagement, CLICK HERE.  

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