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Technology Transfer at the Wellcome Trust

Executive Summary

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.

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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.

Near-Term BioPharma Profitability: Must-Have or Distraction?

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Medical Research Council Technology

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.

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