Industry-Sponsored Research Week

AI tools can help address greater contract volumes and finite resources


By David Schwartz
Published: January 12th, 2021

A detailed article on the use of AI in managing sponsored research contracts appears in the December issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For subscription information, click here. 

As with most areas involved in university operations these days, industry contract management staff are facing the timeless challenge of “doing more with less.” Artificial intelligence tools could offer help.

“Contract volumes continuously increase,” said Melissa L. Matsil, director of sponsored research agreements at Rutgers University, during a recent UIDP webinar entitled, ‘How AI & Expertise are Making Contracts Easier.’ “We don’t have enough resources to put toward thoughtful and skilled and studied review of those contracts — all with the expectation and hope that we are mitigating risk for our institution. We’re also asked to be doing better with less, and to help really foster better relationships with our sponsors and find ways in which to meet our sponsors halfway through the creation of fair and reasonable contracts.”

“We currently have over 1,300 active sponsors; we do not have contract personnel who have expertise in 1,300 different sponsors,” added panelist John Hanold, associate vice president for research and director of sponsored programs at Penn State University. “The diversity and complexity of that portfolio just continues to grow.”

Hanold added that with funding from agencies like NIH and NSF now accounting for fewer total research dollars received by universities, negotiations with other sources, such as foreign entities and multiple industry sponsors, are “fraught with challenges.” Industry sponsors, he added, all have their own priorities, and “every single line of the contract could be a potential conversation or argument.”

In the face of that challenge, he continued, “we do not have a rigid sieve through which all these agreements go. We’re expected to come up with creative, flexible solutions. That’s one reason we’re out looking for tools to help make that just a little easier for [our staff].”

Which is where artificial intelligence (AI) comes in. “The challenge universities have is organizing the data within the contracts within a technology and keeping all their obligations straight on an ongoing basis,” said moderator Kevin Miller, CEO of LegalSifter, whose AI software reads a contract and offers advice on key terms and potential problem areas. Those problem areas may involve creating contracts, managing them, negotiating, executing, or some combination of all four.

“When you make a contract it usually takes more than two humans; trying to get them to agree on a whole bunch of language that usually not one of them wrote at first draft, and usually over multiple pages, is really tricky,” Miller summarized. If AI tools can do some of that work, any contracts team would welcome the productivity boost.

Hanold offered a real-world example of the potential of AI, sharing how he had piloted a tool used for a limited number of agreement types “just to see what I thought we could get out of it.”

He explained that speed was not necessarily his only concern. “It also has to do with the confidence of the participants — since these questions are being asked in the margins of a document things might be missed during review. That confidence can lead to some speed in processing, and to more consistency,” he noted. Hanold pointed out that with a hypothetical billion-dollar a year research portfolio, “if a very experienced contract negotiator gets a 2% increase in efficiency and a less experienced one gets 8%, that’s hugely significant.”

The other benefit, he added, was that the tool helped the negotiators focus their efforts. “I’ve seen a lot of different universities have contracting playbooks … and there are disadvantages to the ones that are very detailed,” he observed. “It’s extremely difficult for any negotiator to keep in mind all of the millions of things a university looks at in an agreement for so many sponsors and sponsor types. Working with our implementation team on this, we’ve been taking some guidance documents, some of which are 20 years old, some of which are two months old, and feeding that [data] into a single framework.”

“I came to the table being a complete skeptic, thinking AI was a tool to replace humans rather than to help us do things in a more efficient and scalable way,” added Matsil. “Now I’m a complete convert. We’re starting slow, but I have every intention to expand and bring the good word about how AI can enhance the work we already do in a very meaningful, thoughtful way. Tools can help with scalability, consistency and accuracy. If you use AI, you will have a more consistent approach to contract management across the board.”

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Emory U and Genuity Science enter research deal on database to speed drug discovery


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 12th, 2021

Emory University and data and analytics company Genuity Science have signed a research  collaboration focused on developing Genuity’s population clinicogenomic database, with an initial focus on neurodegenerative disease. The database aims to enable research with pharma and biotech partners by speeding drug target and biomarker discovery and validation. It will also be used in patient stratification for clinical trial optimization in Genuity’s research efforts. continue reading »

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Reinforcing University IP Policies to Protect Data Ownership & Monetization


By David Schwartz
Published: January 12th, 2021

In recent years, data output among research institutions has expanded exponentially. And while virtually all institutions have patent policies in place covering ownership and handling of patentable inventions, data policies are still very mixed and sometimes completely absent. As more and more institutions monetize their data, the importance of a well-considered institutional data policy has become critical.

That’s why Tech Transfer Central’s Distance Learning Division has teamed up with two attorneys from Amster, Rothstein and Ebenstein, LLP, along with data licensing experts from both MIT and Duke University, to bring you this critical presentation: Reinforcing University IP Policies to Protect Data Ownership & Monetization, scheduled for January 26th.

Register today to learn how to examine your existing IP policies for all types of data coverage, identify gaps that need reinforcing, and gain a solid understanding of the controlling federal regulations as well as potential liabilities. Our world-class panel will also cover licensing and royalty distribution issues, along with risks and best practices related to data storage, retention, and access. For complete details and to register, click here.

Also coming soon:

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Dalhousie U streamlines and rebrands its industry engagement and research commercialization activity


By David Schwartz
Published: January 12th, 2021

Dalhousie University’s Industry Liaison and Innovation office will now be known as the Office of Commercialization and Industry Engagement, one of several changes made as part of a new engagement strategy.

Though university has a long history of successful industry engagement and research commercialization, the former ILI’s business model has evolved significantly over that past few years. Leaders there decided it was time to conduct a strategic review of its operations, seeking to find more efficient ways for its stakeholders to engage and provide greater transparency around processes, procedures and timelines.

That review process involved examining best practices across North America and beyond, mapping out work processes to ensure maximum efficiency and studying new and more effective ways of conducting business.
The result has brought both positive change along with the new name and a refreshed web presence.

“It was important to revisit our process and procedures to make them more efficient to support our research community,” says Stephen Hartlen, assistant vice president of industry relations at Dalhousie. “Our new name and refreshed website are more reflective of our office’s mandate.”

            The newly branded OCIE will serve as a gateway for:
            •    Collaboration between industry and university research teams;
            •    Support for the business and economic development community;
            •    Access to the university’s innovations and intellectual property;
            •    Early assistance in the creation of start-ups based on Dalhousie research.

The updated website is designed to be more informative and transparent. Researchers, companies and start-ups will be easily be able to access downloadable forms and view process maps to learn more about how the office works.

Source: Dal News

Proven Strategies for Rebranding and Revitalizing your TTO is a distance learning collection focused on two standout rebranding projects from the University of New Hampshire and the University of Virginia. Each university embarked on a major renovation that involved upper administration as well as the entire researcher community, and required significant changes to the organizational structure and culture alike. And both restructuring efforts also brought huge rewards. Click here for details.

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MD Anderson inks research and commercialization agreement with Xencor for cancer research


By David Schwartz
Published: January 12th, 2021

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has signed on with biotech company Xencor for a strategic research collaboration and commercialization agreement to develop novel CD3 bispecific antibody therapeutics for potential cancer treatment. continue reading »

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New reports on research, funding, and patent activity in four key technology sectors


By David Schwartz
Published: January 12th, 2021

In partnership with Primary Research Group, Tech Transfer Central is offering four new reports filled with detailed information on research activities, funding, contracts, patents in the fast-moving fields of Solar Energy, Alzheimers & Dementia, Unmanned Aerial Systems, and Water Desalination & Decontamination.

If your organization is involved in any of these dynamic research arenas, you won’t want to be without these important resources that can help you navigate the current research and funding environment and gain critical insight into current developments. Each study is jam-packed with dozens of easy to scan charts and figures displaying data and analysis you can’t find in any other publication. Click on any of the titles below for details and tables of contents:

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Hemogenyx signs master translational agreement for CAR-T research with U of Pennsylvania


By Jason Norris
Published: January 12th, 2021

Hemogenyx Pharmaceuticals plc, a biopharma company developing new therapies for blood diseases, has entered into a Master Translational Research Services Agreement with the University of Pennsylvania. The goal of the agreement is to advance the Chimeric Antigen Receptor (“CAR”) T-cells, dubbed HEMO-CAR-T by the company, through clinical trials. continue reading »

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Serial philanthropist strikes again at U Nevada-Reno


By David Schwartz
Published: January 12th, 2021

A long track record of giving to the University of Nevada-Reno by Mick Hitchcock, PhD, got even longer in the second half of 2020. Hitchcock, who worked in biopharma companies over a 40-year career and helped develop antiviral drugs to combat HIV, has become the gift that keeps on giving for UNR. His most recent donations are directed to enhance equipment and infrastructure, and include: continue reading »

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UIDP & NIST webinar coming Thursday to address potential changes to Bayh-Dole Act


By David Schwartz
Published: January 12th, 2021

Based on input from thousands of organizations in the research community, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has recommended legislative changes to dramatically increase the ROI from the billions in government investment in research and development. This free webinar will showcase the pending changes and provide information on the new opportunities and streamlined processes for universities and businesses that interact with federal labs or receive federal funding. The implications of the changes for research organizations both in the U.S. and abroad are significant.

In April 2019, NIST released a green paper from its Return on Investment (ROI) Initiative for Unleashing American Innovation. This national goal aims to dramatically increase returns from the more than $150 billion per year of U.S. federal government investment in research and development. The document identified 15 findings by NIST to help inform decision-making and implementing actions by the relevant departments and agencies that could further enhance the U.S. innovation engine at the public-private interface. A number of the findings noted that implementation would require revisions to the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 or the implementing regulations to the Bayh-Dole Act. In response, NIST has vetted through informal and formal interagency processes and delivered both a legislative proposal containing 10 findings for modernizing the Stevenson-Wydler Act, and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for updates to the Bayh-Dole Act regulations.

To learn more about the free webinar, click here.

REGISTER

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“Pilot” industry collaboration helps partners assess likelihood of long-term relationship


By David Schwartz
Published: January 5th, 2021

A detailed article on the pilot partnerships between CU’s Anschutz Medical Campus and BridgeBio appears in the December issue of University-Industry Engagement Advisor. For subscription information, click here. 

Job interviews have often been referred to as “crap shoots.” The candidate may have the perfect resume, may present well during the meeting, and there may be clear philosophical alignment between the applicant and the employer. And yet, until the new hire actually assumes that full-time position, there is still uncertainty as to whether the correct choice has been made.

The same holds true for the early days of a university-industry partnership. In the “get to know you” phase, it can become clear that the visions of the two partners are aligned, that their experience and expertise complement each other, and that the nascent interpersonal relationships have all the markings of future success. Yet here again, it is not until collaborations begin in earnest that the partners can feel confident that the relationship will work, and that it can lead to many successful collaborations.

So when the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and BridgeBio Pharma, Inc., recently announced a collaboration “to advance novel research on genetically driven diseases into therapeutic applications for patients,” industry engagement managers were likely intrigued by the following statement: “This collaboration comes on the heels of an eight-month pilot collaboration.”

This “pilot” was more than just early research into areas of common interest. “As we first met them and continued to meet as a team, [a pilot term] was a great way to work with them, to talk about what we could both do,” says James Parrett, Esq, PharmD, manager of pharmaceutical development and IP for the medical campus, who was responsible for orchestrating the partnership with BridgeBio. “They were open to all sorts of ideas, which really makes it enjoyable.”

The pilot, he continues, “somewhat answers the question” of whether the partners have the level of relationship needed to make things work long term. “You try things on a case-by-case basis,” he explains. “Let’s find out if the technology is an excellent fit. Do our researchers like working with them, and vice-versa? My philosophy always has been baby steps. If you get by the first step, take the next steps and then move on from there. If you do not, you ask if there’s something we could do to pivot, or is this not a good fit? The pilot is a good idea to see if there’s a fit.”

“The premise of the pilot was for both sides to sample how each other worked,” adds Eric Gomez, director of asset acquisition at BridgeBio. “They have a wide range of specialties, so part of it was to help us understand in which areas there might be translational research where we could work together. At the same time, both for them and for us, we wanted to see what each partner was looking for. At some universities and institutions, the highest priority is to out-license IP that already exists. At others they try to allow industry to get to know the investigators so an organic relationship can form, so when they have a technology that’s right for the partner there’s some sort of agreement that things can be done,” Gomez observes. “The latter is a more appealing case for an industry partner. Getting to know the investigators and working with them and putting together something is really attractive to industry, and it also helps the patient. We were really privileged to find that this was the type of relationship Colorado was looking for.”

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Telecoms and Purdue launch 5G Zone, the nation’s first practical 5G testbed


By David Schwartz
Published: January 5th, 2021

A collection of telecom companies and Purdue University, led by innovation networking and acceleration firm NineTwelve, have launched the Indiana 5G Zone, a virtual and onsite practical innovation lab. continue reading »

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Partnering with Your University’s Alumni Relations Department to Nurture Innovation Partnerships and Funding Opportunities


By David Schwartz
Published: January 5th, 2021

Your university has thousands of cheerleaders on the sidelines. Alumni are by far your biggest supporters, and with the right outreach and engagement strategies you can tap into that “fan base” to connect with potential research partners, angel and VC investors, local business connections, and start-up support. Skilled and experienced alumni can be crucial not only to faculty and student founders through mentoring and networking, but as that all-important link for introductions to the right people at the right time to move innovations forward.

But too many TTOs are left siloed away from these key potential contacts and supporters. That’s why it’s so important to strike up a solid relationship with your alumni relations department. They are best equipped to capture the attention of alumni, provide key intelligence on their interests, and make critical connections that could be vital to your commercialization projects and your start-up founders.

Tech Transfer Central’s Distance Learning Division has teamed up with members of Rutgers University’s Innovation Ventures and its Corporate Engagement Center to bring you this insightful, strategy-filled webinar: Partnering with Your University’s Alumni Relations Department to Nurture Innovation Partnerships and Funding Opportunities, scheduled for January 28th.

For complete faculty and program details, or to register, click here.

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