Anne Lane, Executive Director, UCL Business Plc talks about the commercialization of innovation from within UCL by linking with commercial partners




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Video title: Anne Lane, Executive Director, UCL Business Plc talks about the commercialization of innovation from within UCL by linking with commercial partners
Released on: July 27, 2011. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, Fintan Walton talks to Anne Lane, Executive Director of UCL Business plc
UCLB's Strategy of commercialisation of innovation
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at the LESI Conference in London, in 2011. On this show I have Anne Lane, who is Executive Director at University College London Business , welcome.
Anne Lane:
Hello.
Fintan Walton:
Anne, one of the things you've done at the Licensing Executive Society's International meeting here in London is to help make it all happen, but you actually have a much fuller job that you have which is the Executive Director at the University College London Business or UCLB?
Anne Lane:
Yes.
Fintan Walton:
Well first of all obviously UCLB 's role and responsibility is to commercialization of innovation that comes within University College London ?
Anne Lane:
Yes, that's right.
Fintan Walton:
So what is the overall strategy there is it just pure licensing or what is the strategy do you have for a commercialization?
Anne Lane:
Our main focus is on licensing, because we don't always have the funds to invests in spin-outs and when you set up a spin-out I am sure you are aware you get diluted during all the rounds of financing, so we find we get a much more continuous income stream from our licensing and certainly, because our focus is in life sciences and UCL is very strong in life sciences most of our licensing is on therapeutics and so in order to develop the therapeutics you need a lot of money, lot of investments and we don't always have that, so we try and link out with partners, commercial partners who can develop and bring it to market and to patients.
Fintan Walton:
Right, now clearly we're talking about innovation that originates within the university?
Anne Lane:
That's right.
Fintan Walton:
Often it's originates because of a grants that may have come from either government sources or the not for profit organizations, how can you connect that level of commercialization to a license when there are may be additional funds that are required to take to a point where it is actually available for licensing or it's a state where it's got some value let's put it that way where it can be licensed?
Anne Lane:
Yes, that's something we've been working on for the past seven or eight-years is that we can get to multiple of means we can do just that and obviously there is translational funding now available from the MRC and Wellcome which wasn't previously available perhaps five-years ago, but also we've been such a preserve profit making company we return any surplus back to the university, but it doesn't mean that we have our own funds that we can invest into research projects and actually bring themselves value inflection points making more money for the university but also make more money to invest internally into projects that come out in the university so that's helped a lot also there has been a lot of proof of concept funding from what was a London Development Agency and from the Higher Education Innovation Fund and that's also helped with the priming of the project right at the beginning. So we can make small investments of 10,000, 20,000 to about 50,000 using proof of concept funding and that's really made a big difference.
Fintan Walton:
And the majority of contracts that you've entered into are they tend to be collaborative arrangements where there may be some innovation but there is still more innovation to come?
Anne Lane:
Yes that's right, I mean we have our own regulatory team, so I think we are quite unusual amongst tech transfer offices who will work with the Wellcome and the MRC with their funding to make sure that it follows a proper regulatory pathway, but we rarely can take it beyond say Phase I testing in patients and that's when we really start to collaborate, sometimes we will do it earlier depending on what our funding situation is at the time and also what the partner wants to do, because nowadays lot of big pharma is very anxious to fill their pipelines and they are out to be seeking things that we might have and very often they will approach our academics at conferences and it will be very early stage then and they want to be involved all the way through so that they can operate to their own internal processes.
UCLB's role as a link between academia and industry
Fintan Walton:
Sure, and of course in the last you know three or four-years may be in the five-years funding has become difficult for biotechnology companies that's one issue, second issue is that pharmaceutical companies themselves are now you know literally cutting back on research and developed at least internally, so that changing landscape what influence has that had on the way you do things at UCLB?
Anne Lane:
It's not quite a big difference actually so I don't know if you've seen recently they GSK started it's academy superstar program and it was the UCL academic that was the first superstar and it was Professor Mark Pepys. So they getting involved much earlier and I think what they are doing is, I am not sure it's actually the right way to go but they are looking at universities to start filling that pipeline and doing some of that early stage research for them. Universities aren't really set up to do just that and I think there's got to have to be a lot of adoption on both sides to get that process to be able to successful, but it doesn't mean it's an opportunity for us and it's already starting with GSK and there are other companies Johnson & Johnson for instance have established a proof of concept fund with UCL and it's actually no strings so they give us money, we match it but we own the IP and we don't have to license it to Johnson & Johnson if we don't want to and many more companies are starting to do just that putting their money and then just seeing what comes out, but not necessarily taking rights to it right from the word go.
Fintan Walton:
But in some ways I suppose UCLB has to be the lead in developing these strategies, I think it's obviously the university itself focuses on it's own academic strengths you are in a sense that link between academia and industry, so your role and not just in terms of how you implement things, but how you develop strategies for the successful commercialization must be really important?
Anne Lane:
Yes, I think that's right and we work closely with our Vice-Provost of Enterprise, so it's the second Vice-Provost of Enterprise that UCL has ever had he sets the internal agenda for enterprise within the university and then we pick up on that, we contribute to how that works so you know with student programs and post graduate programs as well and also making basic researchers aware of intellectual property issues and looking at the commercial aspects of their work if they are owning and there obviously there are no ways, but at least to keep it aware right from the word go does make it easier.
Relationship with existing portfolio companies
Fintan Walton:
Sure, you have a number of companies that you've spun out off of UCL over the years, there are number of them listed on your website for an example, you've mentioned briefly that probably that's not what you are going to do as often as you probably did in the past with your existing portfolio companies that you still have some ownership in through your shares, what is likely phase of those companies?
Anne Lane:
Well I think most of them are looking for exits, obviously we've got one company Ark Therapeutics that's been listed for a long time, we are in the process actually of selling our shareholding in that company we've been doing at over a few years so that we get we sort of smooth out the chops and peaks of the share price with the other companies with many of them we don't have a big equity stake, because we haven't been able to follow our money because we just don't have that source of funds, but we are hoping that with some of the other ones were there are smaller investments required and we can. We have a board director on most of the companies at the beginning, but obviously as they go through the investment process we tend to just have observer rights and we keep tabs on what's going on, I think the biggest generator of income from all over those companies is contracts they have with UCL to carry on some of the work they want to have done.
Fintan Walton:
Sure, so they continue relationships as this is important?
Anne Lane:
Yes, so continue relationship. I mean saying that we are concentrating on licensing and we have recently set up a company spin-out company Abcodia [PharmaDeals ID = 39724] which is looking at biomarkers and that's based on the UKCTOCS trial where we have samples from 150 we have at least 250,000 samples, so that's the resource that actually it's worked very well, but we've also licensed rights to certain fields for that same bank of samples and I think that's the best of both world for us.
Anne Lane's perspective on future challenges
Fintan Walton:
Sure, and then in your role as Executive Director looking forward into the future what do you see as the biggest challenges for you?
Anne Lane:
I think it's access to investments, I think it's what's happening with big pharma and now they are gonna be able to obviously if they want to work with us more they gonna have to think look at their processes too, you know in the past it was very much a domino situation and I think that it's getting better, but I think that we could all improve on that on both sides. I think also consolidation of tech transfer offices, because in the past five-years there has been a lot of high funding spread a lot of small universities and they might only have one or two people trying to do tech transfer and I think there is an argument for perhaps centralizing that in certain areas, I mean we do tech transfer contracts for few smaller institutions in London I think that would help and I think as far our universities working together more as well so UKCMRI is a good example of that.
Fintan Walton:
Anne, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Anne Lane:
Thank you very much.
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).
Anne Lane
Executive Director
Anne Lane has a PhD in medicine from UCL and an Executive MBA from Molson Business School, Montreal. After research at UCL and Harvard Medical School, Anne Lane worked for RTP Pharma Inc in Montreal, out-licensing and preparing valuations of the company's portfolio for public listing. Anne joined UCL Ventures in 2000 and acted as consultant for the National Transfer Centre in the US. She is now Executive Director of UCLB, acts as Director and interim CEO on several of UCLB's spinout companies and oversees the company's licensing activity. Anne is also a member of the Licensing Executives Society (LES) and is on the committee for the Intellectual Property Lawyers Organization (TIPLO).
PharmaVentures
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.
UCL Business
UCL(University College London) is one of the premier universities in the UK for research and innovation, and is dedicated to harnessing its exceptional research for positive social and economic benefit. To this end it has created UCL Business PLC. A wholly-owned subsidiary of UCL, UCL Business (UCLB) has been formed to help industry and business make the most of UCL innovations. Through licensing technologies & innovations, engaging consultancy services, creating shared-risk joint-venture businesses, and utilizing UCL's specialist Subsidiaries, UCL Business promotes and supports the transfer into industry of expertise and knowledge over a wide range of disciplines. To do this, UCLB : Identifies promising new technologies and innovations Promotes UCL expertise and innovations worldwide Offers a single point of contact for business relations with UCL Provides responsive, professional and coherent support for academic/business collaborations, from consultancy through to patent registration, technology licensing and structuring spin-out companies