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University-Industry Engagement Advisor

Deerfield strikes again with $65 million investment at U of Illinois-Chicago


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 24th, 2019

Deerfield Management, the New York-based healthcare investment firm that has already set up drug development companies in partnership with a dozen major research universities, has done it again – this time with the University of Illinois at Chicago. UIC is getting up to $65 million to accelerate drug development and advance its pipeline via a separate entity, West Loop Innovations. The new company aims to help UIC researchers develop novel therapeutics and commercialize their discoveries.

Deerfield’s approach is attractive to universities in part because it allows them to continue developing early-stage therapeutics longer than typical in a university lab setting, de-risking drug candidates and potentially bringing greater returns later when the drugs have crossed important milestones.

“At any research university, the most commercially promising innovations eventually outgrow the lab bench, requiring greater resources or more focused development than an academic setting can provide,” Deerfield said in a March statement announcing a $100 million partnership with Harvard University.

T.J. Augustine, interim vice chancellor for innovation at UIC, said the university’s strong track record of commercializing novel drugs helped cement the funding. He cited several examples of success — HIV drug Prezista, bladder cancer treatment TICE BCG, and shingles vaccine Shingrix — that were created based on UIC discoveries.

“One is an accident. Two is a coincidence. Three is a pattern,” Augustine said. The three drugs combined are expected to contribute $40 million in royalty revenue for fiscal 2019, he added.

UIC researchers can submit project proposals to West Loop Innovations starting this fall. Those selected by a joint committee — with three members from the university and three members from Deerfield Management — will get help and funding.

The university’s Office of Technology Management, which has 281 active licenses, currently invests about 40% of royalty income into research, innovation and commercialization initiatives. Augustine said the plan is to invest more moving forward to further leverage the support from Deerfield.

“UIC has a really great opportunity to use this partnership with Deerfield to put it squarely in a role as a leader in the Chicago area, and nationwide, for drug discovery,” he said.

Source: Crain’s Chicago Business

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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