Genoma España: The Company's Mission and Biotech Funding in Spain




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Video title: Genoma España: The Company's Mission and Biotech Funding in Spain
Released on: April 01, 2010. © PharmaVentures Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, Fintan Walton talks with Miguel Vega, Director of Technology Transfer, Genoma España. Filmed at Bio-Europe Spring 2010 in Barcelona, Spain, they discuss:

• The purpose behind Genoma España

• Genoma's need for a dynamic policy and approach to grants

• Eligibility for grants

• How success is measured

• Difficulties that biotechs face in raising funds

The purpose behind Foundation Genoma Espana .
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here in Barcelona at BioEurope. On this show I have Miguel Vega, who is Director of Technology Transfer at Genoma Espana , welcome to the show.
Miguel Vega:
Thank you for inviting me to the stage.
Fintan Walton:
Well you know Genoma Espana is a government initiative a local Spanish initiative in the national level, what was the purpose of setting up Genoma Espana ?
Miguel Vega:
Well the inception of this national foundation as you said was back in the year 2001. And the main I would say the mission or the main objective in general it was the promotion of biotechnology okay you usually I mean as a biotech institution you can either regulate or promote rather dual role of the lets say the problem and we are just devoted for promoting of biotechnology in Spain.
Fintan Walton:
And you promote that through the provision of grants specifically?
Miguel Vega:
Yes. I mean we have different programs that well are targeted to different end users they can be in research institutions, academia, companies and we have well developed - and well first of all the science and then developed different programs and that main provider of grants for research, basic research, applied research, translational of research, clinical research innovation for companies. And we also have established what we call may be is a well in French this is cellular prospective, okay. I will explain myself, is an competitive intelligence unit, okay because whenever you want to provide advice to policy makers or even you want to have a let's say very well argument on what you are doing okay the justification of your programs you need to do research in terms of getting to know what is there let's say the capacity, the potential to know or as active in this case of biotechnology. So from the very beginning we started that lets say competitive intelligence unit and that has provide I would say 10's of 100's of data and analyze data to support policy making and even to support that foundation programs.
Foundation Genoma Espana 's need for a dynamic policy and approach to grants.
Fintan Walton:
Right. So in the end obviously you need to be able to position the policy against the changes that are happening in the industry that allows Spain to ultimately be successful in biotechnology so that competitive intelligence unit is a part of the bedrock of making sure that actually happens?
Miguel Vega:
That's right, you are completely right.
Fintan Walton:
That's right. So running a policy like that is always difficult, it's not very easy, because you've got to make sure you are running a fairer system, so the system is run on the basis of companies and institutes, academic institutes, research institutes putting in applications for specific grants at specific times is that correct?
Miguel Vega:
Yeah, that is correct. I mean we work as any other public foundation or any other public institution when you provide grants there is a certain procedure a public procedure we have to follow and anyone could can apply I mean to the different programs depending on the end user or the nature you know of the end user, yeah I mean this is mainly what we are doing right now. We, in year 2002 we really focused on providing grants to research in genomics and proteomics, okay and also we provided grants to establish what we call technology platforms because at that time there where no many let's say technologies out there in the market to perform high throughput studies or let's say larger scale studies so we also provided the grant for that. But that was back in year 2002, we now are well once we have all those technologies in place and taking into account well there are many research players in the field of genomics and proteomics we are now moving a little bit forward well aiming that we are moving a little bit forward it means that we are now providing grants in I'd say more grants to our translational research for in such clinical research and innovating meaning funding there let's say the research, biotechnology research activities from firms spin offs.
Eligibility for grants.
Fintan Walton:
So the other thing of course is because this is Spanish initiative it is only for companies that are based here in Spain, it can be an overseas company investing in Spain but you and those companies can also apply for these grants?
Miguel Vega:
Sure, I mean obviously this is a public foundation for promoting biotechnology in the Spain so we are providing supports and we are providing grants for anyone that you know wants to develop biotechnology in Spain. And so as long as they are based in Spain and they are thinking for instance to invest you know in Spain to put in place a new research laboratory a new production plant whatever they want to put in place here in the Spain(indiscernable) Genoma Espana could definitely assist them in many ways looking for you know the right people at the right time that's right.
How success is measured.
Fintan Walton:
Right. So how do you measure your success and what parameters do you look for a successful outcome for Genoma Espana ?
Miguel Vega:
Okay, Well at the beginning we were really looking for things well indicators such as publications in the field of genomics and proteomics also we are looking at indicators such as the use of the specific technologies, high throughput technologies and we are now more and more focusing in all indicators such as patent applications for instance, we are also looking for number of new jobs that are being created, we are also for instance looking for the number of companies or technology based frame set (indiscernable) you know we'll create that (indiscernable) you know in place and are being created. And we are also looking for other indicators such as let's say the funds for instances that are moving into biotechnology from investor, traditional investor sectors and technology the chemistry sector or the agriculture, food or energy you know it is very important for us to have large let's say industrial cooperation in those fields in those areas it is very important for us to convince them to allocate funds on biotechnology so they can like apply or I'll say open a new research line and obviously a new business area in what is biotechnology.
Difficulties that biotech's face in raising funds.
Fintan Walton:
Now grants are very good for companies who are trying to raise money, because obviously for a biotech company trying to raise money particularly in the last year or two has been really difficult so you must be very popular amongst the lot of biotech companies hoping to get some sort of grant money, have you seen a change in the last year?
Miguel Vega:
I mean you are right, it is not easy to raise funds right now in the market especially private funds I would say. Here in Europe we do really have a large tradition of difficulties on raising funds okay well I would say may be central southern Europe main UK is easier. So what let's say the public institutions have traditionally done is to allocate funds for translational research, clinical research and the innovation and this is what we are doing right now, I mean as far as I know there are today there are more funds available for companies to innovate and to fund their pipeline, okay than used to be before. So I mean for us it's very important when we go to basic research are getting, our research institution or academic are thinking of spinning of some of their research or even when we go to companies and they are thinking a new business line so business areas, it is I mean one of the lets say the advantages of the message let's say we can give them a strong message that I mean if you do really have a good science based project you are going to get funds for it. I mean we are now may be assisting a little bit of shift because it used to be subsidiaries you know public subsidiaries for many of these research projects for well coming from companies and now what they are doing is providing let's say loans that really, really I would say loans that are very easy to get and in the way that you may have to you know give back the funds that are being provided to you if you just have the success over the product.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Miguel Vega:
Okay this is very important.
Fintan Walton:
This is interesting really.
Miguel Vega:
I mean many institutions, public institutions across Europe I would say not just in the Spain they are like sharing the risk okay with the company, I mean and if you succeed please give him up back the money because I will allocate that money to another company this is very important. In fact in the United States the other day I had a chance to talk to one of the leaders of the Massachusetts Cluster Biotechnology Cluster and the NIH is starting to do this since many of that are private venture capital are just you know going away from two risky business such as drug discovery and drug development and they are now investing may be in very later stage businesses or biotechnology business they are investing in medical devices, but not really you know concentrating on earlier stage, so now the NIH you know is focusing on that or will say has allocated a certain percentage of its budget to fund translational research to fund innovation.
Fintan Walton:
Miguel Vega, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Miguel Vega:
Thanks to you, has been a pleasure.
Miguel Vega
Director of Technology Transfer
Since 2002 Miguel Vega is Head of the Strategic Studies and Innovation Unit at the National Foundation Genoma Espana . He previously held different positions as Head of the Biotechnology Innovation Circle - Regional Government of Madrid; Entrepreneurship and Tech Transfer Director at Madrid Science Park; and Research Grant-holder and Scientific Agent at the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) of the European Commission. B.Sc. & M.Eng. in Agriculture/Food Engineering and PDD (General Manager Programme) at IESE Business School. Among other merits include, Mr. Miguel Vega has been manager of the IP Securitization and Technology Portfolio Programme for Spanish Public Institutions, and couch to more than 25 biotechnology start ups and spin offs from public research institutions. Miguel Vega is author of more than 50 surveys, reports and publications in the field of Biotechnology: Technology watch, foresight, strategic and economic impact studies. He has been responsible for Biotechnology Foresight activities at the National Observatory for Industrial Technology Foresight (OPTI), and coordinator of different expert panels for the design and implementation of National and Regional Strategic Programmes in Biotechnology. Miguel Vega is associated Professor at Universidad Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain.
Genoma Espana
Genoma Espana is a public foundation whose leading trustee is the Ministry of Science and Innovation, and which mainly focuses on the transfer of intellectual assets, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly in the biotechnology sector.