Politics / Law

Is that a glimmer of sunshine I see on the horizon?

16.12.2011

Brussels – At the end of November, the European Commission coyly lifted its skirts for an ankle-flash of the innovation and research programme that will replace FP7 – the long awaited Horizon 2020. FP7 has evolved well for many areas of the programme. So what can its successor offer in a time that is overwhelmingly horrible for biotechnology? A scence and sector that is expensive, risky and slow to deliver – biotech is the complete opposite of those that cash-strapped governments want to support.

As you know, I will talk your ears off about the need for greater defragmentation, as well as focus on commercialisation and journey to application, and I am cautiously optimistic about the proposed contents of Horizon 2020.

It proposes to align funding programmes from different Directorates. Pretty dull stuff, I hear you say, but I have seen Direct­orates pull hard in opposite directions, with sometimes laughable results. Pulling together Framework, the CIP platform and the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) makes much more sense.

Less red tape (we’ll believe it when we see it), with faster results and project starts, less audit horror and simplified structures – got to get past the beancounters for that, but you never know!
Then there’s a focus on ‘industrial leadership’, with biotech as a named sector – a European weakness will hopefully be addressed. There are also plans to help innovation by including more support for close-to-market science, better public procurement for R&D and innovation – the last of which remains a barrier for health technologies in particular – and a scale-up of public sector risk-sharing with the private sector. Any new SME support programme has GOT to be better than the current one for biotech, so we will keep our ear to the ground for that one. The much-touted commitment to defragmentation of skills and geography will also be welcome. Europe’s regions are still obsessed with growing their skills reeeeaaallllly slowly, rather than working with other places where those skills already exist for fast-track, international solutions. Debt and equity platforms for SMEs – we need to see more details of this to assess genuine assistance for biotech development. There’s also an SBIR-style funding mechanism, currently being trialled in the health programme – hurray for this, a big thumbs up. Conspicuous in its absence was a tough line to improve technology transfer. This is one of the major bottlenecks in effective exploit­ation, but we just hope that it will be addressed in every element of the new programme, particularly as part of the ‘industrial leadership’ focus. So – what do we think of the proposed Horizons 2020 as a whole? It certainly has potential, with a more joined-up approach and results-

oriented language. The economic situation in Europe will no doubt have changed significantly by the time the new programme launches, so nothing is written in stone. We’ll hold our collective breaths, and hope that bio­tech weathers the ongoing storm to the next big Commission effort.

Politics / Law

06.03.2012

London – The European Medicines Agency (EMA) calls it “the biggest change to the legal framework since the establishment of the Agency in 1995.” This year, the EU drug regulators are preparing new so-called pharmacovigilance...

Clinical Trial

06.03.2012

Norway’s Algeta ASA (Oslo) has updated its Phase III survival analysis of Alpharadin in patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer and bone metastases. The analysis showed an increase of 3.6 months in median overall...

Clinical Trial

06.03.2012

Genticel S.A. (Toulouse) has completed enrolment in its Phase Ib study of a lyophilised version of the world’s very first therapeutic vaccine ProCervix, which inhibits infection with the cancer-causing Human Papilloma Virus. The...

Clinical Trial

06.03.2012

The share value of French specialist for cardiometabolic diseases Genfit S.A. (Loos/Lille) took a jump after the company announced its candidate drug GFT505 had met all efficacy endpoints in a pilot Phase II study involving 22...

Clinical Trial

06.03.2012

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted a Biologics License Application (BLA) to the HER2 dimerisation inhibitor pertuzumab developed by Roche (Basel) for previously untreated HER2­-positive metastatic breast...

Politics / Law

06.03.2012

A For years, the world’s major patent offices – including the EPO, USPTO and JPO – have been collaborating in the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) programme. Under the PPH, an applicant whose claims have been allowed in one...

BioFunding

06.03.2012

Berlin/Dublin – Two EU initiatives are seeking to better predict response to cancer treatments. Researchers from the a6m RESPONSIFY Project will develop biomarker-based breast cancer prognosis tests that could be used to predict...

BioFunding

06.03.2012

Bremen/Brussels – European researchers kicked-off the MicroB3 (Bio­diversity, Bioinformatics, Biotechnology) project in February. Thanks to a a9m EU fund, the 32 groups involved will create a unique bioinformatic resource that...

BioFunding

06.03.2012

A Brussels – The European Commission is boosting its investments and policy activities to foster sustainability. “Europe needs to make the transition to a post-petroleum economy,” said Máire Geoghegan-Quinn in Brussels. In...

Politics / Law

06.03.2012

Brussels – In February, I heard of a slightly mad and very worrying trend in decisions handed down by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) with regard to IP issues handed up from the national level for clarification....

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