Technology Transfer at the Wellcome Trust
The Wellcome Trust has initiated a new approach to helping accelerate the transformation of scientific research into useful medicines. Through its University Translation Awards and Strategic Translation Awards, the Trust hopes to encourage collaboration between university researchers and tech transfer operations, fill funding and support gaps as they arise, and back high potential, targeted projects that may otherwise have difficulty finding finance.
You may also be interested in...
The private sector, short of funding, is finding NIH a useful source of support. As large-scale biomedical research becomes prevalent and as industry's early-stage R&D productivity falters, both parties have an interest in collaborating more than in the past. But in general, NIH isn't set up to manage the transformation of so many promising discoveries into clinically useful products. It's determined to change that situation with the introduction in October of this year of a "roadmap" for collaborations of many kinds. Even before this event, however, NCI, the largest institute within NIH, had undertaken several public-private programs to expedite development of new products. The institute's experiences illustrate some of advantages and pitfalls of public-private initiatives.
Being profitable has its advantages, particularly in the current biopharma funding environment-and particularly for those companies able to leverage relatively small investment into relatively quick profitability. But for firms whose own pipelines have yet to come to fruition, it also imposes constraints and pressures on management that wouldn't otherwise be there. In Vivo Europe Rx looks at how four of Europe's biopharma firms became profitable, and how this has affected company strategy. Their differences lie precisely in the purpose of their early profits-as a means to an end, or as the end in itself.
Britain's Medical Research Council has done a lot over the last decade to develop its technology transfer activities. Almost half of the 16 spin-off companies based on MRC research have appeared in the last two years. One important catalyst for this increase in spin-out activity was the founding in 1998 of a venture capital fund with priority access to companies based on MRC-owned technology, the UK Medical Ventures Fund/MVM Ltd. More recently, the creation of Medical Research Council Technology, bringing together three geographically distinct units involved in technology transfer, has led to a simpler, more efficient structure and better staff retention.