The role of tech transfer at VIB

At the heart of VIB  

Technology transfer is firmly embedded in VIB’s mission. It has three objectives. First, to translate our research into products for patients and consumers. Second, to create new economic activity and new jobs. Third, as a result of the two primary objectives, to raise money for our research teams.
VIB strongly believes that technology transfer in academia flourishes best in a research environment that is inspired by the needs of patients and consumers, but that is also focused on pushing the frontiers of science. The evidence is accumulating of a correlation between top-level research and successful technology transfer; at VIB, the best technology transfer results are often achieved in the scientifically best performing teams. This explains why VIB strongly endorses excellence in basic research in order to kill two birds with one stone: top-level scientific publications and the successful transfer of technology. 

Patenting strategy

The patent system is a further illustration of the fact that groundbreaking research and technology transfer go hand in hand. It is well established that patents have been instrumental in the establishment and growth of the life-sciences industry. The time-consuming and highly expensive development of novel drugs, diagnostics or crops requires intellectual property protection to prevent copying of products. But patents are only granted for inventions which are novel, non-obvious and have an industrial application. More importantly, patents with the highest economic value often have very broad claims that protect a radically new technology or product platform and allow the development of many different applications; such patents are usually based on highly innovative, breakthrough research. So it should not come as a surprise that scientific curiosity and excellence can lead to improvements in health, agriculture and economic activity, provided the right technology-transfer mechanisms are in place.

Combining the strengths of academia and industry

Translating scientific findings into products for patients and consumers requires skills, expertise and financial means that vastly exceed VIB’s resources. To transform our research into marketed products, we therefore need to establish partnerships with existing companies or establish new enterprises. VIB pro-actively markets its proprietary knowledge and portfolio of many hundreds of patents and patent applications to businesses around the world who are willing to diligently develop products derived from VIB research. VIB inked more than 800 agreements with local and international companies, with small enterprises and multinationals, and in areas as diverse as the food, biopharmaceutical and
agricultural industry.
The revenues generated from these deals represent 15-20% of the annual VIB budget. Some key components which have been important in our ability to strike deals with companies are the establishment of a strong patent portfolio and knowledge basis, an active marketing of the know-how, and a flexible, tailor-made approach to negotiating partnerships.
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