Tech Review

Biotech partnering and the other IP

07.03.2012

Intellectual Property (IP) is without question one of the most vital aspects of any bio­tech venture, a key and undisputed factor for success. However, most bio­tech companies are still incapable of unlocking the value of their intellectual property all on their own. They need another kind of IP – Intelligent Partnerships, especially in the expanding monoclonal antibodies market.

Since the beginning of the economic crisis, the bio­technology sector has had to endure a lot of negative news, even suggestions that the industry as a whole could collapse. Whilst overly exaggerated, the current viewpoint is certainly grave. But let’s look at the abbreviation of IP in another way: Intelligent Partnerships! Below are a couple of examples of this essential area that we consider important to the future of the biotech industry.
IP between academia and industry is key to the sustainability of the sector. The raw material for new start-up ventures is mostly a transfer from universities into industries. Understanding how to manage the interactions between the public partner (which most universities are) and the private sector is an indispensable ability for future development of the company. Evaluating science amongst peers becomes more important as the industry grows more global.
IP requires smart money!
IP often requires good, experienced and well-connected investors. Only if smart money finds its way into the venture can you expect solid development of results and milestone achievements. The prudent investor base isn’t only involved in the Life Science and Biotechnology sectors. If investors see better (or safer) future exits for their money, they will turn away from our risky but highly-rewarding industry and invest in other areas.
IP is also necessary with a view to fostering increased respect for the research community. Its members produce innovation, which leads to new products, new cures, new production methods, new companies and to more jobs. The service sector depends a lot on a pipeline of new ideas that can be turned into products with commercial value. In the past, society respected researchers and engineers much more than they do today. We should alter that current perception as quickly as possible and motivate young talents to look for professional success in science and engineering.
IP works well in countries where major government and industry funding is available. These entities invest and manage start-up funds, and by doing so create a pipeline of new companies. Critics might say that too much state aid is not good for the sector, but managed well, rewards are higher than initial investments. After all, a larger and improved work force is the goal of any economy.
IP needs cluster management
Not many industries are better equipped to be grouped into clusters based on Porter’s theory of building competitive advantages. Hotbeds of biotech can be found in countries all over the world, and they compete with one another. If that competitive spirit leads to better science and economic output it’s all well and good, but if it becomes an obstacle for sustainable development then it’s better to change strategies. The size of a country also determines the number of clusters.
Related to the IP of cluster management is the fact that transatlantic collaborations in the public sector need to be improved. For decades, academic institutions have worked with peers all over the world, but funding agencies still hold off on investments. The European Union’s FP-programmes are steps in the right direction, but the bureaucracy for each programme remains high. Partnering events like the BIO-Europe Spring are also good platforms for starting sustainable relationships.

Stimulate IP!

Last but not least, IP in creating an improved and better image for biotechnology is a must. Biotech is a far-reaching instrument for providing good solutions to the world’s most pressing issues, but we all need to use its tools wisely and have patience. Intelligent Partnerships can only grow if we are all taking part.

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