Cambridge MedChem Consulting

Technology Transfer Offices

If you are an academic involved in drug discovery there is a paper in Nature Biotechnology that you should read that tells you what you need to know about your technology transfer office (TTO) doi.

The administrative complexity and opacity in university technology transfer presents an extra obstacle to academic entrepreneurs who already face a multitude of technical and commercial hurdles before their discovery can reach the marketplace. The best way to overcome these issues is to be fully informed before initiating negotiations with your TTO. We hope the information in this article will better prepare you to meet these challenges.

The article gives information on how long the negotiations can take with the TTO (up to 18 months!), and what you can do to improve the process. There is also the issue of the size of the stake the university will claim in the fledgling company

Perhaps the most striking difference between the United States and United Kingdom is seen with equity deal terms. In the United Kingdom, a typical licensing deal is a rarely negotiable 50:50 split between the university and the academic bioentrepreneur, whereas US interviewees often reported universities taking a 5–10% negotiable equity share.

The authors have tried to gather together the IP policies of the major universities in the US and UK and tabulated the equity share taken, some universities take 5% whilst others take over 67%. It should also be noted that in addition to the initial equity stake there might be long term milestone payments that need to be factored into the equation.

At a time when there is an effort to increase academic involvement in early stage drug discovery it is useful to have the spotlight shone on this often opaque area. Whilst this paper only reviews US and UK institutions I suspect similar issues exist in other countries.