BioFIT 2019 – Fostering Innovation and Tech Transfer
18 December 2019
By Elaine Lima de Souza
A week ago, I attended the BioFIT Event, thanks to the Biotechnology Community. The event took place in Marseille, France. BioFIT is the leading partnering event in Europe for technology transfer, academia-industry collaborations, and early-stage innovation deals in the field of life sciences. In this blog, I will talk about my experience and about what I have learned during those days.
Life Science Tour in Marseille
Before the event started, we had a tour to discover the life sciences ecosystem in Marseille. First, we visited The Georges Charpark Provence Campus. This centre delivers scientific and technical support to start-ups with personal and material resources. In return, it maintains strong links with the region’s economical and industrial base for business creation and generating jobs for its graduate students. At the campus are companies like Panaxium. Panaxium is specialised in debilitating and degenerative medical conditions treated with precision by bioelectronic devices.
Next, we went to The Luminy Campus and The Biotech Incubator. Luminy is a Technology and Scientific Campus with more than 15,000 people. The campus is home of the Marseille Immunopole, which is an immunology cluster dedicated to R&D for treating cancer and inflammatory diseases. We were also introduced to Mi-mAbs, a platform for innovative services designed to accelerate the development of new antibody-based immunotherapies against cancer and inflammatory disease.
Led by a prestigious committee, the BioFIT conference program brought together bright minds to debate on innovation-focused topics, to foster learning, inspiration, and conversations that matter.
This event was sponsored and attended by big pharma companies like Pfizer, Sanofi, Bayer, Roche, Novo Nordisk, Boehringer Ingelheim, and many more.
Over 80 international experts discussed current stakes of the sector related to innovative academia-industry collaborations, early-stage assets, and investment. The program was divided into three tracks: best practices in academia-industry R&D collaborations; nurturing and licensing early-stage assets; and from pre-seed to Series A: accessing early-stage investment.
At the event, I attended several sessions which included conversations between professionals from industry and academia, one-to-one meetings, start-ups pitches, and much more. Next up, I will describe some highlights of the track of best practices in industry-academia R&D collaborations.
Partnerships between universities and pharmaceutical companies
Relationship was definitely the word which was most used during this session. For a long-lasting partnership between universities and pharmaceutical companies, it is necessary to understand each other’s needs in order to create value for both parties.
It is all about the open innovation economy. Pharmaceutical companies will benefit from this partnership by having access to particular expertise in the university that can promote innovation in their company.
Moreover, most of the time interaction with academia leads to a connection to hospitals, which is important for clinical trials. It is also essential to understand that a company will only be interested in a partnership if the research being developed is what the company needs. In addition, most of the companies prefer to collaborate when the study has already in vivo proof of concept.
The university can benefit from this partnership when applying for grants, or by getting support and advice about regulatory parts involved in the R&D, by sharing patents, using company facilities, and eventually receive financing to develop the research or to acquire new equipment.
Moreover, there are chances for the students to engage inside the company. It is an excellent career development activity which will also support the employability of the students in the future.
Another topic in question was whether this collaboration disturbs the attention of the academic scientists for more applied science. Still, they conclude that it is the choice of the professor what kind of research he wants to develop, and he can be engaged in both basic and applied science. There is no limitation to that.
In conclusion, when academic researchers collaborate with the industry, they know that what they are doing must be relevant and must bring value to society.
Networking like a PRO
It was amazing to be part of this event and to meet such interesting people. I was really out of my comfort zone, but I think I have done an excellent job. A lot of connections, a lot of learnings, and a lot of laughs. Thank you all for making this experience even more reward than I already expected.
I hope I can have the opportunity to be there next year, and to engage again with this fantastic community.
Thanks, #BioFIT2019, for this fantastic event!
Elaine Lima de Souza is the founder of BioUnie, a startup created to help you to connect with the Dutch Life Sciences Innovation Ecosystem & Get Inspired to Innovate. Read other blogs from Elaine Lima de Souza.