G V L Berkeley University College London SchoolingPresentation Transcript
Dr Steven Schooling Director, Engineering and Physical Sciences UCL Business PLC Proof of Concept Funding: “ Accelerating Commercialisation of University Technologies” 19 November 2009
UCL was established in 1826 and was the first university in England to admit students of any race, class or religion, and the first to welcome women on equal terms with men.
72 academic departments grouped across 8 faculties with 4,000 academic and post doctoral staff:
A truly multi-disciplinary university: Fine Art to Medicine
Internationally-renowned centres of excellence. E.g. Bartlett School of Architecture and Institute of Ophthalmology
Academic quality illustrated by 20 Nobel Prize winners covering disciplines ranging from Physics, Medicine and Economics.
UCL is ranked fourth in the world's top ten universities by the Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings
University College London: Overview
UCL’s Enterprise agenda set by a Vice-Provost of Enterprise who is part of the university’s senior management.
UCL Advances: internal UCL department providing enterprise training for UCL staff & students together with hosting of networking events between UCL and the business community.
UCL Business PLC : wholly owned subsidiary company of UCL working to make connections between the expertise and innovations of UCL’s academics and the needs of industry & the wider marketplace.
UCL Business PLC: turnover in excess of £8 million in 2008/9, with 35 staff spread across technology transfer, consultancy and project management functions.
How UCL structures its Enterprise activities
Academic research base generates early stage technologies that potentially are of significant commercial relevance.
Technology emerging from the academic base will generally be immature and the commercial potential is often not well-understood.
UK government believes that university knowledge transfer activities contribute to the longer-term development of a strong knowledge based economy.
However a key impediment to such activity was the availability of funds to enable a ‘proposition’ to be developed to the stage where exploitation through licensing / spinout company creation is possible.
The Proof of Concept Funding Gap
Multiple funding sources including UK Government (using part of UCL’s HEIF funding allocation), Regional Development Agency funds, internal retained profits from spinout exits/licensing income and most recently from commercial partnerships (e.g. Johnson & Johnson).
Typical activities supported using PoC funds
Building a demonstrator to show that an invention works in practice.
Improving an Intellectual Property position (e.g. further work to exemplify or broaden patent claims).
Market and business analysis to demonstrate the commercial potential of a proposition.
Adding ‘industrial strength’ coding and documentation.
Proof of Concept at UCL (1)
Project funding levels: typically between £20-30k, although can commit up-to £100k per project.
Project Timeframes: typically 6 to 9 months with clearly defined milestones to be achieved which will enable downstream commercialisation to take place.
Review process is light touch BUT each application requires support of a UCLB technology transfer manager, who manages the project through its lifespan.
Projects have predominantly focused on opportunities emerging from the Engineering, Physical Science and Biomedicine faculties, however activities also supported in Arts & Humanities & Social & Historical Sciences.
Proof of Concept at UCL (2)
Impacts of PoC funding at UCL
Since 2004, UCL has invested approximately £1.8million of funding in order to support around 70 PoC projects. Largest award of £65,000 with smallest award £7000 and average being £25,700.
Distribution of projects: 38 Biomedicine, 16 Physical Sciences & Engineering and 16 at the interface between Life and Physical sciences (e.g. Medical Technology).
Spinout company creation: 10 companies created
Licensing of IP (other than to spinouts): 6
Projects securing funding for downstream development:: 14
No further commercial progress at end of PoC funding: 10
Projects still in progress / Outcome yet to be secured: 30
Wireless Sensor Networks technology which enables remote asset management to be delivered at much lower cost compared to existing ‘wired’ solutions.
In late 2006, UCLB board director identified need for wireless monitoring in rail industry - PoC funding being provided to support demonstrator development.
Demonstrator provided basis for engagement with Network Rail and which subsequently unlocked funding for a trial deployment and seed investment.
In 2009, Sencieve had a turnover of around £300k and employs five people in London.
Case Study 1: Senceive Ltd “ Providing a pathway to Spinout Creation”
Liver failure therapeutic market is annually worth over $500M. UCL research identified a compound which reduces ammonia levels in patients with acute liver disease.
UCLB initially invested ≈£65K PoC funds to validate and secure core IP position.
UCLB subsequently committed £500K of internal investment funds to support pre-phase I activities. Also allowed the team to draw down a further £750K from the UK’s MRC to support a Phase I clinical trial.
Following promising early results, the programme was exclusively licensed to Ocera Therapeutics in December 2008. UCL & Ocera continue to work collaboratively in order to take the therapy to market.
Case Study 2: Hepatic Encephalopathy Project “ Enabling therapeutic development and licensing ”
At UCL we believe that Proof of Concept funding provides a vital link in the process of commercialising research outputs.
Experience suggests that it is vitally important that they are used as “Bridge rather Pier” funding (i.e. outcome focused rather than simply supporting further research).
Technology transfer manager plays an important role in project selection and monitoring.
UCL challenge is to identify mechanisms whereby PoC support can be developed into a sustainable funding stream!
Dr Steven Schooling Director, Engineering and Physical Sciences Email: [email_address] Tel: 020 7679 9000
Benchmarking: Scottish Enterprise PoC scheme £1.5m £5.8m 41 No Commercial Outcome £33.9m £17.5m 111 Total £5.5m £5.2m 31 Progressing to commercialise £5.4m £1.1m 7 Collaborations £0.5m £0.6m 5 Stand-alone Licenses £21.0m £4.8m 27 Spinouts Leveraged Finance Scottish Ent PoC funds Number