THERE IS A CLEAR NEED FOR TURNING SCIENTIFIC INSIGHTS NOT ONLY INTO PAPERS, BUT ALSO INTO TANGIBLE RESULTS THAT BENEFIT SOCIETY. Valorisation at VU University Amsterdam and VU University Medical Center Amsterdam
TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER OFFICE VU & VUMC
INTRODUCTION The Technology Transfer Office (TTO) of VU and VUmc has a clear mission: support scientists in creating added value for society from their academic insights and results. Or in other words, support scientists in their valorisation efforts. In this brochure, we present a selection of inspiring valorisation achievements by creative and open minded VU and VUmc researchers. The role of TTO in these achievements varies from being closely involved to offering support from the sideline. The latter examples are important to show too, because valorisation is not all about TTO, but primarily about researchers and their results. We hope this selection will spark new ideas, boost new initiatives and stimulate more researchers to consider additional ways of using their research results. There are so many ways to make academic knowledge relevant outside the academic world. And for those who are eager to explore the opportunities, TTO is available for advice and support. Just contact us and we will gladly help you out.
CONTENT Preface by the board of directors VU and VUmc
Preface by Steven Tan
TTO: support & advise
Strengthening valorisation in the Amsterdam area
Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam (NCA)
Business Development team
Facts and figures
TTO funding instruments
Collaboration with public and private parties
Licenses 30 IP/ Patents
Spin-off companies VU and VUmc
Biobanks 40 Taskforce Alpha-Gamma Valorisation
TTO VU & VUmc team
VALORISATION AT VU AND VUMC
PREFACE BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS VU & VUMC MAKE A DIFFERENCE OUTSIDE THE ACADEMIC WALLS “To us, there is no doubt about the importance of valorisation. Our society simply screams for solutions to all kinds of problems. There is a clear need for turning scientific insights and breakthroughs not only into papers and publications, but also into tangible results that in one form or another benefit society. It is the responsibility of public institutions like VU and VUmc to be aware of the issues and challenges society is facing. We have to use our scientific antennae to bring society into the academic environment, analyse the problems and distill the key scientific questions to address. We take our inspiration from the outside world, but it also obliges us to come up with ideas and solutions that are socially relevant. After all, it is two-way traffic. This responsibility on the institutional level of course translates to an individual responsibility of scientists working within VU and VUmc. Recognizing the potential applicability in whatever way of scientific results is just as much a part of doing science as is publishing, teaching and giving lectures. Communicating results has always been part of the job and valorisation activities seamlessly fit in. And to counter a widespread misunderstanding: valorisation does pay off in terms of academic career development. The days when valorisation was perceived as unfitting to the true academic calling have long since passed. Valorisation is on the map and is here to stay. The Boards of VU and VUmc are strongly committed to making our institutions excel not only in science and education, but in valorisation as well. This commitment shows for example in the substantial investments in our TTO, in the internal Intellectual Property revenue scheme that directly awards part of the revenues on an invention to the scientists involved and the fact that valorisation is a
direct responsibility of a member of the VU and VUmc Boards. The essential question is of course how to measure success in valorisation? What do we envision to deliver? The answer is all about dynamics. What we aim for is to create an open environment where new initiatives are cherished, explored and challenged to develop them into strong, independent entities that can make a difference outside the academic walls. Such a dynamic atmosphere would be a true indicator of success.” Prof. dr. Wim Stalman, Board of Directors VU University Medical Center Amsterdam Prof. dr. Frank van der Duyn Schouten, Board of Directors VU University Amsterdam
VALORISATION AT VU AND VUMC
PREFACE BY STEVEN TAN THE LEVERAGE OF VALORISATION â€œIn a world where academic institutions are continuously challenged to adapt to changing circumstances, the valorisation practice is developing as well. The position of the Technology Transfer Office is moving. Where in the past, the TTO would be in charge of valorisation and would operate almost detached from the researcher; it is more and more becoming an integral element of the daily scientific practice with the researcher in the lead and TTO in a supporting and service-orientated role. This new perspective on the role of TTO is in line with the growing need for universities to secure funding from public-private partnerships instead of regular research subsidies. Increasing the external revenue streams is a key objective of both VU and VUmc. And this has an impact for individual scientists as well. They need to become almost self supportive when it comes to funding. Valorisation is a means to this end, but mostly in an indirect manner. In general, valorisation achievements, however successful they may be, do not generate sufficient revenues to fund your research. But a good valorisation track record will enhance your earning capacity. Why? Because funding bodies are putting more emphasis on the societal return on investment of research funding. So when assessing research proposals, it really helps when you not only have an impressive academic track record, but a valorisation track record as well. That is how valorisation boosts your chances of success in funding. Not as a direct source of money, but as leverage to tap into other resources. There are plenty of good scientists with impressive publication lists out there. Distinguishing yourself also in valorisation gives you the competitive edge.â€? Steven Tan, Director TTO VU & VUmc
“Distinguishing yourself also on valorisation gives you the competitive edge.”
Steven Tan, Director TTO VU & VUmc
VALORISATION AT VU AND VUMC
Valorisation: ‘The process of creating value from knowledge by making knowledge applicable and/or available for economic and/or societal utilisation and turning it into innovative products, services and processes and new business.’ Innovatieplatform, 2009
TTO: SUPPORT & ADVISE FOR SCIENTISTS: TTO OFFERS A BROAD RANGE OF SERVICES Whatever the idea, invention, insight, finding or application is, valorisation starts with a thorough intake. Together with the researcher(s), we assess the idea and challenge it from all angles. TTO and the researcher review the potential ‘customers’ and evaluate the various options for valorisation. A new company, a training method, a license, collaborating with industry – what ever suits the idea best. Depending on the approach chosen, we can offer support throughout the valorisation process in different ways. Networking and Collaborations TTO can help building or expanding your network, for example to suggest relevant socie tal institutions, companies or government bodies, within the Netherlands and abroad. Collaboration with one or more external parties is usually a key aspect of the valorisation process. Identifying potential partners is an important first step. When it comes to negotiating the terms of such a collaboration and drawing up a contract, TTO has the necessary expertise. License or transfer of intellectual property When the invention or application offers added value to the activities of other organizations, it might be worthwhile to explore the possibilities for a license or a transfer. TTO can scout for a candidate and prepare the pitch with the researcher. And of course, once negotiations start, TTO is right by your side.
New company Setting up a new company is a great way to exploit the potential of an innovation. Together with the researcher, TTO will engage in an in-depth evaluation process to find out whether there is true business potential in the proposed innovation. Who would be potential customers? Is there an existing market? What about the competition? Are the financial risks acceptable? Once all lights are green TTO can advise on the legal aspects that come with incorporating a company. In addition, assistance can be given in contacting experienced management and identifying investors or other funding sources. TTO also has its own financial instruments to support new ventures: the Proof-of-Concept fund and the Pre-Seed fund. Protection of Intellectual Property Depending on the exact nature of the invention, legal protection might be necessary. TTO advises on the different possibilities and assists in filing for a patent or claiming copyright. Timely protection is crucial to enable future commercial exploitation. Legal advice and support TTO’s in-house legal team is available to help with many legal aspect of the valorisation process. Whether it is about the terms of research collaborations, license agreements, confidentiality agreements, material transfer agreements or any other type of contract, professional support is essential. Whatever the legal question, the sooner TTO gets involved, the better.
Negotiations Closing agreements that suit the interests of all parties involved is quite a challenge. For academics, negotiating with commercial parties can be daunting. TTO gladly accompanies researchers during the negotiations and can help defend their academic interests. TTO can assist in ensuring an optimal position for the researcherâ€™s group or institute. In all cases, we concentrate on the commercial, IP- and legal aspects of the contracts and make sure we are fully compliant with the policies of VU and VUmc. TTO is not involved in the scientific and organisational details of a project. Training TTO hosts a number of courses and workshops that assist scientists in exploring the valorisation process and specific topics related to that. For example, an introduction to valorisation, a workshop on intellectual property or a hands-on course on the path from idea to market. For Management Boards: TTO offers strategic advice Besides assisting individual scientists in their valorisation endeavours, TTO is available to support Faculties, Institutes, Departments and other entities within VU and VUmc in developing their valorisation strategies. Drawing on broad experience, TTO can suggest new perspectives and directions and help to sharpen a strategic approach.
VALORISATION AT VU AND VUMC
STRENGTHENING VALORISATION IN THE AMSTERDAM AREA The University of Amsterdam (UvA), Academic Medical Centre (AMC), VU and VUmc are pooling their strengths in a collaborative valorisation effort. Aimed at â€œPartnering excellent science for societal impactâ€?, the three main priorities are to: 1. Set-up a cross-institutional TTO that supports scientists within the four institutions. 2. Engage in business development activities for a number of cross-institutional priority research areas. 3. Strengthening the overall valorisation culture within the participating institutes and the broader Amsterdam area.
VALORISATION AT VU AND VUMC
NEUROSCIENCE CAMPUS AMSTERDAM (NCA) A HEALTHY BUSINESS MODEL
BUILDING AN ENVIRONMENT FOR PROGRESS
“The Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam is a network of more than 550 collaborating neuroscientists from VU and VUmc. Partly on the initiative of TTO, we have established an Industry Alliance Office that focuses on finding collaborative links with industry. As Chief Scientific Officer, I come into action when a potential partner has a question related to our scientific scope. If matters progress to the stage of negotiation, patents and contracts, we benefit from the business experience of TTO. Valorisation is not only important to a healthy business model, it also inspires researchers to work together with partners from industry.” Arjen Brussaard, Scientific Director Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam
“Together with the Industry Alliance Office, we try to create strategic interest in the research that takes place within NCA. We aim to combine different elements that help companies in their R&D efforts. For example, we could offer opportunities for collaboration that employs our access to patient materials combined with our proteomics expertise. Instead of offering a single invention, product or technology, we aim to build an environment for external parties to push their research forward and enhance the chance of new discoveries. The incentive for our academic researchers is the access to new compounds being developed by pharmaceutical companies, along with pharma’s vast knowledge on clinical development. Also, these colla borations provide opportunity to participate in new clinical trials and the possibility of secure funding outside of standard public funding sources.” Tim Moser, Business Developer TTO VU & VUmc
“We aim to build an environment for external parties to push their research forward and enhance the chance of new discoveries.”
Tim Moser, Business Developer TTO VU & VUmc
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“My work basically comes down to matchmaking. I am the matchmaker between the academic researcher and the industrial party. In part, that implies motivating researchers toward a certain line of thinking. The other part is what we jokingly call ‘the hunt’. Here, I act as a kind of detective to find out who would want what we have. When it works out and you get positive feedback from an industrial party; that is a great reward. Because it means that I have found something of value to them. A potential solution to a puzzle they are facing. The information we work with is all out there, the trick is to use it more cleverly than the next guy.” Tim Moser, Business Developer TTO VU & VUmc
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT TEAM OBJECTIVE ENTHUSIASM “More and more, researchers actively approach us for support. Especially the young and upcoming ‘stars’ know how to find us. They are eager to add a patent or a business activity to their resume, but most of them want to stay in research. The challenge is to help them achieve their valorisation goals, without creating too much interference with their academic work and responsibilities. Our aim is to ensure that it all results in a 14
valuable addition to their career. I think the most important aspect of our role is to bring what I call ‘objective enthusiasm’ to the table. We are realistic and critical, but also optimistic and creative. When we believe in the idea and the commitment of the researcher, we will keep on pushing the project untill it lands in the right environment.” Nigel Wagstaff, Business Developer, TTO VU & VUmc
VALORISATION AT VU AND VUMC
“The sooner we know what is at stake, the more room we have to manoeuvre the process in the desired direction.” 16
Renate Ridderhof, Legal Counsel, TTO VU & VUmc
LEGAL TEAM PROVIDING COMMON SENSE “Very often, in addition to providing legal support, our role is to bring common sense to the valorisation process. We help to explore all aspects, positive and negative, that come or should come to the table. The university and society at large are becoming more businesslike. In my view, scientists are often too modest. And to take away any misunder standing, our main objective is not to make money, but to ensure that academic knowledge is put to good use in society. That is the whole point, but to do so you have to take care of the formal arrangements in time. Not only pertaining to ownership of knowledge and potential revenues, but also to, for example, the freedom to publish. Safeguarding the independent position of the scientist is one of our priorities. We also have to balance the interests of VU and VUmc. But we have to get involved early on. The sooner we know what is at stake, the more room we have to manoeuvre the process in the desired direction.” Renate Ridderhof, Legal Counsel, TTO VU & VUmc
VALORISATION AT VU AND VUMC
â€œPontes Medical is an accelerator of medtech innovation.â€?
Janine Sikkens-van de Kraats, Pontes Medical innovation manager at TTO & FMT VUmc
PONTES MEDICAL MAKE NEEDS EXPLICIT â€œPontes Medical is an approach to address clinical needs that require a medical technology innovation, which was developed six years ago by UMC Utrecht, AMC and VUmc. So far, Pontes Medical has resulted in seven new medtech products on the market. Key to Pontes Medical is co-creation: promising new medical devices are developed together with physicians, industry, engineers and end users. A recent VUmc showcase illustrates our approach. An orthopedic surgeon voiced the need for a better chisel to remove bone cement. As we quickly found out, the general opinion among orthopedic surgeons was that the current chisels are far from perfect, but for the lack of an alternative, everyone puts up with a suboptimal solution. We were able to interest a company in jointly developing a new chisel and the results are amazing. Bone cement is removed not only much faster, but also with less damage to the bone. It all sounds so simple, but for an individual surgeon it is not feasible to initiate and manage the necessary process. The Pontes Medical innovation manager has the overview and the contacts to get the process going and see it through to the end. As such, Pontes Medical is an accelerator of medtech innovation.â€? Janine Sikkens-van de Kraats, Pontes Medical innovation manager at TTO & FMT VUmc
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FACTS AND FIGURES
2008 22 5 2009 25 7 2010 35 3 2011 43 3 2012 53 11 TOTAL 178 COLLABORATION AGREEMENTS 29 CONSORTIUM AGREEMENTS
2008 5 2009 3 2010 7 2011 16 2012 18 TOTAL 48 LICENSES
2008 4 2009 8 2010 7 2011 0 2012 0 TOTAL 19 PRESEED LOANS
2008 21 2009 14 2010 19 2011 42 2012 27 TOTAL 123 PATENTS
2008 3 2009 3 2010 1 2011 3 2012 3 TOTAL 13 SPIN-OFFS
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TTO FUNDING INSTRUMENTS: PROOF-OF-CONCEPT FUNDING AND PRE-SEED LOAN TTO has two types of financial facilities avai lable for start-up or early stage companies. A Proof-of-concept funding (POC) offers (aspiring) entrepreneurs the opportunity to carry out technical feasibility studies on their concept, invention or idea. A Pre-Seed loan allows start-ups to create and further build a business. By providing a financial ‘helping hand’, the TTO aims to encourage research-based entrepreneurship among VU and VUmc staff and to create a stimulating environment where new inventions and initiatives can be explored and tested.
The Proof-of-Concept funding proved to be crucial. THE NEED FOR SPEED “We started the company with a technology looking for a market, so we had to find market demand ourselves through identifying customers with a relevant need. We managed to build our first product and even a secondgeneration version on our own. By then, an idea for a new product came up, but we needed external funding for its development. The Proof-of-Concept funding we acquired from TTO proved to be crucial. It not only allowed us to professionally execute the pro duct development track of the Nanoindenter, but also to accelerate the overall process. Speed is essential, if you move too slowly, you risk losing the window of opportunity in the market. The Proof-of-Concept scheme has helped us tremendously.” Hans Brouwer, Co-founder and CEO of Optics11
A BROADER SCIENTIFIC HORIZON “Academic entrepreneurship is worthwhile: it has taught me the difference between doing and delivering. At the same time, it broadened my scientific horizon. It required a completely new way of thinking to get me out of the comfort zone of my lab. We had to shift from focusing on what we wanted to do for ourselves to what we wanted to deliver for others. But it was worth it. The disseminating of my technology has brought me into contact with scientists from all kinds of disciplines. These contacts are inspiring as they often lead to new scientific questions and ideas. I now think about areas that used to be way beyond my horizon, like neurosciences, cell biology and tissue culture!” Davide Iannuzzi, professor of Experimental Physics at the VU and co-founder of Optics11. Optics11, founded in 2011, exploits proprie tary fibre-top technology to construct Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) directly on top of optical fibres. Optics11 builds on the work of Davide Iannuzzi.
“Academic entrepreneurship is worthwhile: it has taught me the difference between doing and delivering.” Davide Iannuzzi, professor of Experimental Physics at the VU and co-founder of Optics11
“Even though we are now independent of the VU, I still regularly interact with the TTO team to get feedback on ideas and plans.” Hans Brouwer, Co-founder and CEO of Optics11
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GENERATE A MULTIPLIER “While looking for technical and financial support to get our ideas to improve incontinence care off the ground, we came into contact with VUmc. We are not a VU spin-off, but because of the strong focus of VUmc on geriatric care, the TTO team was willing to grant us a Pre-Seed loan and that really got things going. We were able to establish proof-of-concept and produce a first prototype of our Sensotive patch. But it also enabled us to file a patent application, acquire another patent, contract a technical support partner and, very impor tant, to secure additional funding from other sources. Using part of the Pre-Seed loan as matching, we could generate a multiplier on the initial investment.” Benno Groosman, Co-founder and CEO of Salusion Founded in 2008 by Benno Groosman and Gerard Vaandrager, Salusion develops innovative technologies that support care professionals in their daily practice. Salusion’s lead product is Sensotive, a sensor patch to be used in incontinence napkins.
‘Look for partners that fit your vision, not the other way around. Partners can be located everywhere so take a broad view. We started out in Rotterdam, acquired funding in Amsterdam and are now located in Delft, close to our development partners. Choose what is best to realize your plans.’ 24
“The Pre-Seed loans really got things going.”
Benno Groosman, Co-founder and CEO of Salusion VALORISATION AT VU AND VUMC 25
COLLABORATION WITH PUBLIC AND PRIVATE PARTIES Academic institutions like VU and VUmc are increasingly positioning themselves as strong participants in collaborative partnerships with industry, SMEs and government bodies. Such a mix of parties is ideal to create a research environment that offers the right operating space for all participants. Public research organisations and academia can focus on basic science, whereas companies can pick up potential leads and turn them into tangible products and services that benefit society in the broadest sense. This combination of channels is exactly why governments are willing to stimulate and finance this type of publicprivate partnerships. Examples are manifold.
SCIENTIFIC OUTPUT, POLICY INPUT “In 1992, we started the LASA study to monitor older adults on various aspects over a long period of time. Alongside to physical health, we were also interested in mental health, cognitive skills, emotional development and social well-being. We were granted a 10-year subsidy by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. Due to the combination of scientific and socially relevant output, our subsidy was renewed and funding has been secured until at least 2016. The dataset we have built over the years has really established itself as a leading resource for a variety of government bodies and social organisations when it comes to the aging population. In addition, the Ministry of Health yearly suggests three policy-related questions that we will address using the LASA database, creating a direct relationship between scientific output and policy input. I think this project clearly illu strates how academic research and social relevance can go hand in hand. It is however essential to have the stamina and the commitment to engage in this type of research. But it pays off.” Marjolein Broese van Groenou, Professor of Informal Care, Faculty of Social Sciences, VU The Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA) is a collaboration between several departments within VU and VUmc, with primary partners being the Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine (EMGO, Institute for Health and Care, VUmc) and the Department of Sociology (Faculty of Social Sciences).
“This project clearly illustrates how academic research and social relevance can go hand in hand.”
Marjolein Broese van Groenou, Professor of Informal Care, Faculty of Social Sciences, VU
VALORISATION AT VU AND VUMC
A FIT-FOR-PURPOSE INNOVATION “VUmc and Philips have a long history together and the relationship is still very valuable to us. The VUmc is an important research partner and a global leader in nuclear medicine. In 2010, we came to a master research agreement with VUmc in which together we defined the foundations of our collaboration. The TTO team played an important role in this process. They ensure we create the right environment for the scientists to focus on what they do best: research. What this agreement clearly shows is that VUmc and Philips are looking towards the future together. One of the lea ding projects we are currently working
on, together with the group of professor Guus van Dongen concerns the PET-MRI scanner. This is really a high priority project. Working with VUmc creates a unique opportunity as it allows us to test and validate a new technology in the clinical setting. This way, we ensure that we focus on a ‘fit-for-purpose’ innovation. Furthermore, this will accelerate the innovation track and it will support adoption by the market. Collaborating with VUmc creates the added value we are looking for.” Ernst Wodrada, District Manager WestNetherlands, Philips Healthcare
MATCH AMBITIONS “As a scientist working in an academic hospital my aim is to develop a solution that really benefits patients. Imaging is relevant to all clinical stages, starting with diagnosis and prognosis and ending with monitoring the effects of treatment and assessing the outcomes. In addition, imaging is a valuable tool to learn about the biology of disease. The quality of the imaging equipment is crucial and Philips is specialised in developing new scanner technology. By combining their innovation power with our expertise in tracer development and image analyses and 28
interpretation, we believe we can achieve the best results. It is important that scientists and industry both acknowledge the added value of the collaboration. This awareness sometimes gets lost when the formal negotiations start. At that point, the involvement of TTO can get the process back on track. They are in the position to match the academic and industrial ambitions resulting in a win-win situation.” Guus van Dongen, Project leader VU University Medical Imaging Center Amsterdam Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine
“Collaborating with VUmc creates the added value we are looking for” Ernst Wodrada, District Manager WestNetherlands, Philips Healthcare
“Scientists and industry need to acknowledge the added value of collaborating.” Guus van Dongen, Project leader VU University Medical Imaging Center Amsterdam, Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine
VALORISATION AT VU AND VUMC
DARE TO BE TOUGH
Are you about to set foot on the path to valorisation? Do you have an innovation up your sleeve, for example a technical invention, new software or a smart questionnaire? We gladly act as your sparring partner to test your ideas. Is it really new, does it address a need, is there commercial potential and is it ready for the market? Perhaps there are existing parties interested in licensing your innovation to turn it into a new product or service. TTO helps you scout such parties and assist you in all legal and business aspects of licensing agreements.
According to Vermeulen, most scientists are unaware of the market value of their know ledge. “Scientists have an entrepreneurial attitude, but apart from a few exceptions, they are not purely commercially-driven entrepreneurs.” The TTO team can adequately determine the value of knowledge and knows how to sell it, he says. And they don’t shy away from tough negotiations. “I don’t think I would dare to play the game that way. It is hard to decide on the best terms of a deal, but TTO really guided me in the right direction.”
MAKING REVIEWS WORK YOUR WAY
FORMAL SETTLEMENT So far, Vermeulen collaborated with the TTO on three projects. “In one project, TTO suggested creating intellectual property rights on my work. I would never have thought of that possibility. They offer insights and expertise that I, as a researcher, don’t have.” The same goes for the formal conclusion of a deal, such as drawing up the contracts. “This is not to be underestimated. Many projects fail especially on this aspect. The TTO team has the know ledge and experience needed to handle the formal arrangements.”
Turn your customers into your company’s ambassadors. That is the essence of the online reputation management tools developed by Olery. These user-friendly tools provide the leisure and hospitality industry insight into their online reputation and social media presence. While being served appallingly on a terrace, Olery’s founders Kim van den Wijngaard and Peter Boermans started thinking about how hotels should deal with poor reviews on social media and review sites like TripAdvisor. Diving into the subject, they came into contact with Ivar Vermeulen, who agreed to assist them in developing a method to assess the reliability of reviews and review sites. “The support from Ivar and the VU really helped us on our way”, says Peter Boermans. The TTO team provided valuable suggestions. Boermans: “Especially on potential funding sources for further technical development of our tools. All in all, collaborating with the VU was definitely worthwhile.” Peter Boermans, co-founder and CPO of Olery
Ivar Vermeulen is an assistant professor at the VU Department of Communication Science, Faculty of Social Sciences. His research has contributed to various online reputation management systems that have found their way to the market.
â€œTo me, valorisation could be taken up on much larger scale. I think that the need for our knowledge within the industry is much larger than what we have experienced so far. Honestly, I am sometimes surprised by the lack of scientifically valid knowledge in organisations and companies. There are many opportunities out there to sell knowledge and literally create value from your research.â€?
Ivar Vermeulen, assistant professor at the VU Department of Communication Science, Faculty of Social Sciences
VALORISATION AT VU AND VUMC
FIND A GOOD HOME
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY The products of a creative process, such as a technical invention, written work, a design, a drawing or a new process can all be legally protected using patent or copyright law. Within VU and VUmc, a scheme of regulations is in place, which define the rights and responsibilities of those involved in the creative process. These Intellectual Property (IP) regulations also provide clarity on the rights of all relevant parties within VU and VUmc: the inventor(s), the department and VU or VUmc. A key aspect is that the inventor(s) are entitled to one-third of the income generated from this IP.
i-Optics develops smart tools for eye diag nosis to enable better care for patients, while at the same time increasing efficiency and decreasing costs. One of their products is the Cassini, an innovative instrument to measure and analyse the shape of the cornea. The origins of the Cassini trace back to VUmc, where the underlying technology was developed at the Department of PhysicalMedical Technology (‘FMT’). In 2007, TTO was approached by the inventors to assess the potential and feasibility of patenting their new technology. The outcomes of the evaluation process were positive and a patent was filed. Meanwhile, contacts were established with i-Optics to probe their interest in the technology. The interest was clearly there and as a first step, VUmc and i-Optics engaged in a research collaboration. The collaboration resulted in a second successful joint patent filing, with TTO again in a coordinating role. While discussing the terms of the commercial licensing agreement between VUmc and i-Optics on the two patents, TTO had to balance two interests. First, to estimate a realistic commercial value of the contribution of the patents to the end product. Second, to enable successful valorisation of the technology by creating an optimal starting position for i-Optics. An interesting sideline here was that one of the inventors moved to i-Optics, which provided the company with another in-house expert on the licensed technology. In the end, it all worked out to the satisfaction of both parties. VUmc managed to find a good home for its technology and i-Optics created a truly innovative and commercially successful product. Eric Litjens, Clinical Marketing Manager i-Optics
A successfully filed patent can represent a substantial financial and/or social value. Even if the researcher is not interested in pursuing the commercialization of an invention, it is worthwhile to seek timely protection in order to capture the potential value of the invention. In many cases, industrial parties will not invest in further development of an invention when proper protection is lacking. To give an example, without a patent, a promising therapeutic may never reach patients.
“VUmc managed to find a good home for its technology and i-Optics created a truly innovative and commercially successful product.”
Eric Litjens, Clinical Marketing Manager i-Optics
VALORISATION AT VU AND VUMC
SPIN-OFF COMPANIES VU AND VUMC
1992 CYCLOTRON VRIJE UNIVERSITEIT BV 1998 SCIENTIFIC COMPUTING & MODELLING NV 2000 2QR RESEARCH BV AM PHARMA BV 2001 BIO DETECTION SYSTEMS BV
2003 IMMUNAFFECT BV 2005 DCPRIME BV MICROBIOME LTD. ORCA THERAPEUTICS BV SEA SPRING WATER BV WATER INSIGHT BV
2006 A-SKIN NEDERLAND BV DC4U BV 2007 ACACIA WATER BV EXAMINE BV GERIMEDICA BV IOTA PHARMACEUTICALS LTD KIESKOMPAS BV SYNAPTOLOGICS BV 2008 MUCOSA BV SELF-SCREEN BV SOMANTIX BV 2009 GRIFFIN DISCOVERIES BV TTOPSTART BV EVALUA NEDERLAND BV 2010 TEZT BV
2011 GRYPS BV OPTICS11 BV SPEECHLAB BV
2012 PRESELECT DIAGNOSTICS BV THROMBODX BV VU-HBS BV
VALORISATION AT VU AND VUMC
SPIN-OFFS SPIN-OFF COMPANIES When it comes to innovations, there are many roads to the market. Together with the scientists involved, the TTO team can help to determine a suitable strategy. In some cases, founding a VU or VUmc spin-off company offers the best route to commercialize know-how and/or intellectual property rights. A selection of VU/VUmc spin-off companies is presented on page 34 and 35.
“Stay true to your original idea and don’t get distracted by practicalities. Too often, you are tempted to please your first customer or are limited by the restrictions of the platform chosen. If necessary; be prepared to drop everything and start again from scratch. Remain confident in your own expertise and original idea, but acknowledge the expertise of others. Surround yourself with knowledgeable people. TTO can be a source of those.”
VERY CONVENIENT SUPPORT “When Frank Hoek and I pondered our plans for GeriMedica back in 2006, we were not intending to start a company. However, TTO recommended it and very convenient for us, the team supported us in everything to do with incorporating a private company, such as acquiring capital and drawing up contracts with the shareholders. In addition, they also provided valuable input on our business plan and helped us prepare pitches. I can recommend teaming up with the TTO. Many promising ideas never make it because they are not handled professionally. Scientists like to think they know everything, but establishing a company is a trade in itself.” Thomas Ferguson, CEO and co-founder GeriMedica About GeriMedica GeriMedica supports professionals in delive ring high-end, multidisciplinary care for elderly and chronically ill patients. The company’s electronic medical record “Ysis” allows physicians, paramedics, psychologists and care support staff access to up-to-date infor mation on each patient, resulting in a high quality and efficiently organized care setting.
“Stay true to your original idea and don’t get distracted by practicalities.”
Thomas Ferguson, CEO and co-founder GeriMedica
VALORISATION AT VU AND VUMC
POST-GRADUATE EDUCATION Academic education is not exclusively geared towards the needs of bachelor, master or PhD students. In many professional areas, education remains essential to keep up with current developments and new insights. Post-graduate education is therefore important. Professionals, ranging from accountants to dentists and from lawyers to managers, can choose short, targeted courses or in-depth programmes. VU and VUmc offer post-graduate education modules in accountancy, dentistry, governance, law, medicine, management and organisational sciences.
FIERCE COMPETITION “The VU Law Academy offers post-academic education for legal professionals. Law is not a static phenomenon, but very much alive and under development. New laws and case law require legal professionals to stay up-to-date and post-academic education is essential in that respect. The VU Law Academy offers 200-300 courses and 20 specialization tracks, enrolling around 3000 participants on a yearly basis. Lawyers make up the majority of our participants, but we also serve legal counsels, company lawyers and notaries. The courses vary from 4-hour updates to in-depth speciali sation programmes. These specialisation tracks are closely related to the legal areas that the VU Faculty of Law excels in, such as pension law, contracting law and mergers and acquisitions. Post-academic education is an important way to valorise our academic know ledge. It offers a great channel to showcase our expertise and it generates a considerable revenue stream that benefits the academic efforts. The competition is fierce, but we generate a turnover of more than 2 million each year.” Jan Breed, Director VU Law Academy
“Post-academic education is an important way to valorise our academic knowledge.”
Jan Breed, Director VU Law Academy
VALORISATION AT VU AND VUMC
â€œThe more our biobanks are used, the betterâ€?
Charlotte Teunissen, Head of Neurochemistry Laboratory and Biobank, Department of Clinical Chemistry, VUmc
BIOBANKS The term biobank refers to a collection of human samples, such as blood, urine or tissue, that has been collected for the purpose of scientific research and/or clinical treatment. Donors can be patients as well as healthy individuals. Biobanks contain valuable information on the donor of the sample, for example on clinical outcome, medical status, genetic characteristics, socio-economic status or lifestyle. Access to these collections can be crucial for companies developing novel diagnostics or therapeutics.
RELEVANT PERSPECTIVES “My research interest focuses on biomarkers for Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis. For these two diseases, VUmc manages renowned biobanks that generate a lot of interest, espe
cially from the pharmaceutical industry. We are willing to grant companies access to our biobanks for projects that are in line with our own goals. The reason is simple. We want our research to benefit patients, so the more our data and expertise are used, the better. But that doesn’t mean we give it all away for free. All this knowledge has been gained thanks to public funding, so we expect commercial parties to pay a fair fee. The TTO team supports us in such negotiations and draws up the contracts, but they do more than that. Together, we also identify and actively approach companies that may benefit from our biobanks. I know from experience that there is a lot of added value in operating together. They contribute relevant perspectives that we don’t have. Working with the team on a variety of projects, I have learned that they offer a lot more e xpertise than is obvious at first sight.” Charlotte Teunissen, Head of Neurochemistry Laboratory and Biobank, Department of Clinical Chemistry, VUmc
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By 2016, all VU faculties are obliged to have a valorisation strategy in place. The VU Taskforce Alpha-Gamma Valorisation was installed in June 2013 to support the eight alpha-gamma faculties in the development and implementation of a valorisation strategy.
“We are actually doing a lot more than we give ourselves credit for.” The taskforce consists of Ingrid Wakkee (Faculty of Social Sciences), Finette Lips (Faculty of Law) and Diane Schöller (Faculty of Arts).
TASKFORCE ALPHA-GAMMA VALORISATION CREATING A POSITIVE VIBE “Our first action was to list all ongoing acti vities related to valorisation within the facul ties. This inventory turned out to be a real eye-opener. There are so many valorisation activities going on, we are actually doing a lot more than we give ourselves credit for. What we learned is that education is a major channel for valorisation in the alpha-gamma domain. The VU offers a large and highly diverse array of post-graduate courses and in-company training modules. Another inte resting finding from the inventory is that VU researchers are strongly represented in a wide range of external committees and advi sory boards, ensuring a close link between VU research and the societal debate. But the problem is that these education and advisory efforts are not labelled ‘valorisation’ and are thus not recognized as such. Valorisation is still largely associated with patents, license deals and spin-off companies. We aim to 42
familiarize researchers and faculty boards with a much broader interpretation of valorisation. Show them that it is not just about making money, but about creating value and that there are many ways to do so. You need a broad view to recognize opportunities for value creation. And you need stamina, don’t pull the plugs too soon, but give initiatives the time and space to develop. When it comes to our ambitions as a Taskforce, I really hope we can contribute to a positive vibe around valorisation. Show the community that valorisation activities are worthwhile and rewarding. That valorisation in itself is not the goal, but rather a means to further develop and accommodate education and research.” Ingrid Wakkee, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship, Department of Organization Sciences (Faculty of Social Sciences) and member of the VU Taskforce Alpha-Gamma Valorisation
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TTO VU & VUMC TEAM To boost valorisation of academic knowledge, VU University Amsterdam and VU University Medical Center established a shared Technology Transfer Office (TTO) in 2006. The TTO team currently comprises seventeen dedi足 cated staff, including three legal counsels and eight business developers. The combined expertise available within the team spans all scientific disciplines and a range of essential areas, such as patent law, finance, licensing,足 market research, funding and research agreements. So far, TTO has been successful in helping many scientists engage in valorisation and achieve tangible results. 44
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A SELECTION OF TTO’S COLLABORATION PARTNERS
COLOFON Publication: TTO VU & VUmc Editorial staff: TTO VU & VUmc Text: Esther Thole, Eindhoven Photography: Fred van Diem, Peter Valckx en Studio VU Design/Printing: Studio VU Technology Transfer Office VU & VUmc T +31 (0)20 598 99 05 E firstname.lastname@example.org W www.tto.vu.nl Postal and visiting address De Boelelaan 1085 1081 HV Amsterdam W&N building, room F-554
VALORISATION AT VU AND VUMC