London Technology Network: Jolyon White on Company Activity and Collaborations

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Video title: London Technology Network: Jolyon White on Company Activity and Collaborations
Released on: August 26, 2010. © PharmaVentures Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, Fintan Walton talks with Jolyon White, Technology Broker at London Technology Network. Filmed at the PharmaTelevision studios in Oxford, UK, they discuss:

• Activity in the last two years for CRT

• The development of the Discovery Group

• The importance of collaborating with big pharma

• Working with AstraZeneca, MRCT, Cephalon and the University of Auckland, amongst other arrangements

• The future of CRT

The origin and functions of LTN
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here in Oxford. On this show I have Jolyon White, who is a Technology Broker at LTN in the UK, welcome to the show.
Jolyon White:
Good morning.
Fintan Walton:
LTN, is an organization based in London, was originally called The London Technology Network and has now evolved into a larger organization, broader organization involved in assisting companies big and small to gain access to research particularly in the Universities and Research Institutions in the UK, could you tell us more about LTN?
Jolyon White:
Yes, I'd be delighted too. The company originated in London as you so correctly point out in 2002, fairly shortly after that though it expanded out into the South East and the East of England and it's currently operating in the Midlands as well, so we tend not to use London very often, because frankly we are now multiregional organization covering about half of the United Kingdom . The organizations rationale is to assist companies identify expertise, pieces of technology resources that they require to drive their R&D programs forward most of this resource is coming from the publically funded sector, now if you look at the United States model where you see clusters of high technology companies they are nearly always around one or two very large research institutions, so you might take San Francisco for example there is three or four, but they are very close together and they are very big so Stanford, Davis, UCLSF in Massachusetts, then you've got Harward and MIT and then down at RTP you've got the three big universities down there. In the UK we have a lot of smaller research establishments they nowhere near as big as the MIT's and Harward's and they are spread over a large area. So think of yourself as a technologist within an SME so you got limited resource for search and you want to find the right expert to deal with your particular problem, where do you go? If you come to an organization like LTN you can say this is my problem, this is what I am looking for. Within a couple of weeks we can come back to you and give you may be 5, may be 10 responses that will address your need, more importantly than just addressing your need behind those responses will be individual academics and researchers who want to work with you because not all academics want to work with industry, there is only a limited number that do, okay that's increasing I agree, but historically does not been the case. So come to LTN we can actually make the UK a little bit more structurally like the United States, and in other words it's easy to access the research from the public sector. So that's good from the industry perspective, from the universities perspective this research is largely funded by the tax payer and it's not just the universities it's also the public sector research establishments or PSRE's so you start to look at establishments like NIBSC, like Babraham, like John Ennis these are government funded institutes again with good sound academic research. These organizations basically need to translate their research, publications very important very good, but at the end of the day this science is intended to benefit people.
LTN operates between public and private sector
Fintan Walton:
It sounds very good, excellent, where does LTN then fit in relation to the technology transfer offices of these various research institution universities?
Jolyon White:
That's a very, very interesting point. LTN was founded upon some very good peer reviewed research that was done within the business schools both in the United States and in the United Kingdom looking at where deals begin between the public sector and the private sector and something like three quarters were beginning with somebody in the company knowing what that company technically needs, so somebody with the title like CSO or CTO or laboratory Head or Division Head in research and the expert within academia, so where LTN operates is bringing those two together, because we can increase the deal flow by increasing the probability that somebody in the company who knows what the company needs meet somebody in the public sector who has the expertise. Having brought them together LTN then stands back, we do not get involved in the process of transactions, or producing the contracts negotiation the terms we might like to because we can see how we think it ought to go, but if we did interfere there then we would start interfering with the universities business development activity and we would also interfere with the company's business development activity, so we are in the stricter sense of the word a dating agency and we focus on that, and that also allows us then to do what we are best at, which is that early stage matching, bringing the right technology and the right individuals from the public sector together with the right needs and the right individuals from the private sector.
Fintan Walton:
Okay, now you call it a dating agency some people will think of dating on the web eHarmony and so forth dot com but is it software based or is it down to real networking, is it down to the personal contacts individual staff?
Jolyon White:
We obviously use software tools, we hold a database with a massive number of academics some pieces of expertise that we can delve and search. In terms of web 2.0 type activity which I think is what you are referring to where you load your own data and you come up with answers tools such as innocentive, no we don't use tools like that. We are involved with the enterprise Europe Network, we operate the hub for London and the one for the South East and those are use matching databases, but generally speaking it comes down to understanding what the company needs and the individuals there and knowing the academic network, so it is very much a managed network and obviously because it's a managed network we are able to record the outputs which is why I can say with great confidence we are delivering 300 deals a year and have been for five-years.
Deals cover both life sciences and physical sciences
Fintan Walton:
Now you mentioned the 300 deals which you do per year on average, two questions does that 300 cover life sciences as well as other areas, because obviously LTN does broader, it's broader than this life science?
Jolyon White:
Yes it does, absolutely. I do carry life sciences in my job title, but the boundaries between physical science and life science now are so blurred and so broken, I really think it's a little artificial, but in answer to your question yes strictly life sciences would make up probably about half of those and then physical science would make up the other half, but you know within that there would be a number that are very, very blurred indeed, so medical imaging would obviously use ICT in terms of image processing, but on the other hand in terms of the detector and what it's looking at and reagents that are used to enhance the imaging then that's very much sitting in the (indiscernable) wake of the life scientist and the two come together and it's becoming, my goodness increasingly seamless the division between them.
Types of agreements between research institutes and industry
Fintan Walton:
Right, now the other thing is you've described the agreements that have between the research institutes and the industry business, what are the typical types of agreements that are been entered into, are these just collaborative arrangements how do they normally operate?
Jolyon White:
There are huge range, there are huge range. The latest to touch we get something like 15 and 20% sitting in the area of consultancy, now consultancy is a very good point to began a relationship it's cheap, it's low investment and the two parties can find out whether they can work together about three quarters of what we do would fall into collaborative research and contract research that making up that half, and then the other quarter is split between contract testing and consultancy, now the interesting thing is only a very tiny amount of what we do falls into licensing or spin out it's about 3 to 5% and that has been again consistent for the last five-years, now the interesting point there as it's suggests that we are working upstream of intellectual property and that's very much what we absorb. About three quarters of the deals that we facilitate are first time between that company and that publically funded research institute most of their justification for engaging with the academics was about growth.
Role of LTN's Business Fellows
Fintan Walton:
The other component to LTN as I understand is the concept of Business Fellows, so this is part of your network and how it all works hopefully to favor both the research institutes as well as the companies that engage LTN, so tell us a bit about the role of the Business Fellows?
Jolyon White:
When we started out we've realized that to stimulate activity between industry and academia what we had to do was to bring the right parties together what I said at the outside, now there is two sides to that get them together in the first place organize that, but also you have to lower the barriers between the two of them and you've got to remember the motivation of industry is largely and ultimately about shareholder value and profit, the motivation of an academic is much more complicated, it's about pay review, publications, research grants, it's not really about IP patenting, so they talk a different language, their motivations are different, their management structures are different, so what we thought we would do is first of all to find out what's going on in the department and to act as a catalyst we would select a number of academics from departments that we thought would engage with industry, we thought were right, we would take these individuals and we would train them to understand what motivates industry, in other words to be able to talk the language of industry, so when they are presenting a piece of technology don't tell me how complicated the technology is, tell me what problem it solves. If I am interested and I am an industry person I will engage with it, if I am not I leave it. So we took these individuals, we trained them we then retained them on a consultancy basis for half a day a week, we buy half a day a week of their consultancy allowance and in that half a day a week they help us understand who in the department wanted to engage with industry and with what, and also they then help their colleagues not just themselves their colleagues engage with industry, so we have 85 of these individuals on our books at the moment and these are the people who act as the conduits between the companies placing the enquires and their colleagues who have the expertise, sometimes it's the Business Fellow doing the deal themselves with their own research, because these are research active academics they are usually lecturers, senior lecturers, but usually what they are doing is they are helping their colleagues engage, so suddenly you have a department which has a window into a very large network of companies asking for solutions.
Future strategies and goals
Fintan Walton:
Sure, now the other thing that we observe obviously in our industry, in the life science industry, in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry in particular is this is changing environment, we've got a economic climate that's changed, biotech companies are not getting as much venture capitals as they used too, this consolidation going on in the pharmaceutical industry, they have their own issues like pipeline needs to be filled and so forth, but then top of that I understand that LTN has funding from three regional development agencies as well which under the new government are gonna scrap these RDA, so there are new challenges, new changes coming into the environment in which you operate, so how does that gonna effect LTN and how you going to deal with that going forward into the future?
Jolyon White:
Well first of all to finalize out what our strategy will be in 2011 and 2012 and going forward, we have to understand what structures are going to be in place, at the moment the government is talking about local enterprise partnerships, we don't know what from the RDA's those are going to pick up, what from the RDA's is going to go to things like city councils or county councils and what is going to be dropped. So that proportion, and it is only a proportion of our funding that comes from RDA's we will have to look at alternative strategies for, but I really don't know what those will be yet, the European commission as far as its support of LTN is concerned is a fairly constant body it doesn't seem to be going through the ructions that's going on in the UK, and the universities although they are suffering very considerable spending cuts at the moment, I believe that we offer a very good value option for universities and obviously for industry, I think we are a very cost effective fast solution to addressing a technology gap or technology need that they have. So it's really all I can say about the future at the moment, we are looking at many, many options yes I am sure you can imagine.
Fintan Walton:
Right, but I mean I suppose it means that there are these are new challenges and obviously there is going to be a new way in which LTN can operate or is it just it's still gonna operate to achieve its ultimate goals, but how it does that from a funding perspective presumably with that?
Jolyon White:
From a funding perspective there will have to be some alterations, what those are I do not know yet, we are talking to a lot of people as far as the outside service is concerned is this brokerage service I believe that is not going to change.
Fintan Walton:
So that's intact, that will continue?
Jolyon White:
That's exactly, yes. Well that is unique selling point.
Fintan Walton:
Right, indeed. Jolyon White, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Jolyon White:
Thank you very much for inviting me.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Jolyon White
Technology Broker
Jolyon White is a Technology Consultant specializing in life sciences, and works with London University departments in biological sciences, clinical laboratory sciences, life sciences and pharmacology, helping to match expertise with commercial needs for the effective exploitation of knowledge. Jolyon White has his first degree and PhD in Biochemistry, his MBA for the OU Business School and was a Research Fellow in Chemical Engineering at Loughborough University of Technology. For the last 15 years Jolyon White has worked in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, holding posts variously in Quality, Technical/Project Management, General Management and then last 8 in Business Development. He has a wealth of experience as a business manager in the areas of B2B and International sales, Corporate Strategy development as well as in the complex area of business-NGO interactions. Jolyon White is a Member of both the Institute of Biology and the Institute of Food Science and Technology. He is on the Editorial Board and Guest Editor of Drug Delivery Systems and Science.
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
LTN and Enterprise Europe Network are dedicated to improving the competitiveness of UK industry through more effective interaction between the science and technology research base and industry. Effective interaction requires identifying needs and finding and accessing the knowledge and experience of those who can help. LTN employs a number of technology consultants people with broad experience of knowledge transfer who can facilitate all projects.