Enhancing the potential of innovations emerging from academic environments
In a joint initiative the Albert Ludwig University (Freiburg) and the Patent Office ipal GmbH (Berlin) aim to create high level industrial value for promising academic inventions. For this purpose, a BMWi funded pilot project “Innovation Office (IO)” was launched in spring 2010. Upon success, established IO infrastructures will expand their initial focus from oncology and medical technologies to life sciences more generally.
Inventions arising from academic research often fail to be further developed towards novel industrial/pharmacological applications. The reasons are (1) lack of infrastructure at universities - including market-driven assessments, (2) lack of financial support even for lead projects and (3) lack of experience among scientists to perform subsequent essential development steps. Technology Transfer Offices at universities might facilitate contacts to potential industrial partners but in most cases these early stage innovations have limited opportunities for commercialization.
A novel approach:
Scouting: The Patent Offices of the universities transfer inventions with promising application to the IO.
Evaluation: A committee of independent external experts will be assigned by the IO to evaluate these projects in several independent, stringent filtering steps. Progressive due diligence includes state of the art and SWOT analysis, detailed investigations of market potentials, burn rate prognoses and customer & competition analysis as well as in-depth FTO research. Finally, a portfolio of reviewed lead projects, highly attractive in feasibility and market potential, will be transferred to further sponsorship.
Funding: Financial support will be generated from public and/or private funding programs and investment partners. In order to secure an efficient use of investments, investors and IO will implement project-specific milestone-plans for all assets within the pipeline conjointly.
Development: Professional contract partners perform all necessary R&D steps until a Proof of Concept (PoC) is realized. In case of e.g. Pharma this involves key efficacy and safety data from preclinical and early clinical phases up to at least “first in man” studies. In case of medical technologies it relates to the development of a functional prototype.
Steering: The IO is responsible for the overall project management as well as the harmonization and monitoring of all relevant processes. Starting with the evaluation it prepares regularly updated project dossiers and finally sets up detailed business plans for commercialization. Over the entire process the IO continues to coordinate professional market monitoring.
Commercialization: The Patent Offices in return will be responsible for the commercialization of those projects having successfully met all IO/investor requirements up to PoC realization.
An innovation with adequate marketability stands for lowered risk, increased potential for commercialization and thus attractive revenues. Accordingly, the IO is believed to generate win-win situations for all partners by generating extensive value chains on selected early stage inventions via professional assessment, external funding and competent development towards high industrial value.