The Technology and Business Development Office (TBDO) at the CRG works to ensure that the results of the research conducted at the Institute contribute to the wellbeing of our society and to the economic growth of the life sciences sector in our region through the development of novel therapeutic, diagnostic and other types of products.
The TBDO is firmly convinced that the most beneficial products and services stem from excellent and disruptive scientific achievements when the latter are channelled through a well-designed strategy, ensuring adequate protection, development and commercialisation. Thus, guiding CRG innovators along the technology transfer process by means of frequent and close interactions with them is always our main priority, while also offering excellent support and training opportunities, e.g. through the 3rd edition of the “From Science to Business” course, organised by the BIST institutes in collaboration with the ESADE Business School.
In 2018, the outcome of all these efforts was the successful incorporation of Seqera Labs for the commercialisation of the NextFlow Open Source Code software. The company (with a mixed business model based on services and enterprise-grade product development for data-intensive computation) had already kindled the interest of a first private investor in 2018 and intends to implement its first capital widening in 2019. Similarly, Microomics, a company incorporated at the end of 2017, offering microbiome consulting services, plans to reach break-even by mid-2019 thanks to the CRG’s continued support throughout 2018. We trust that other entrepreneurial projects will see the light as new spin-offs in 2019 and which are currently maturing at the Institute with the TBDO’s assistance.
On another tack, in the course of 2018, the TBDO actively identified 19 new technology opportunities and continued to work on others that it had already identified, amounting to a total of 35 active technologies in our portfolio at different stages in the technology transfer process. Similarly, 2 new patent applications were filed and a further 3 progressed through the international and national phases, adding a total of 10 active patent families by the end of 2018. It should also be mentioned that the TBDO also supported 6 proof-of-concept projects, either with own funds or by helping these projects to access competitive funds. In this regard, the CRG was also awarded two ERC Proof of Concept grants in 2018 to help to drive recent findings in breast cancer and infectious diseases towards the clinical stage (IMPACCT and MycoVAP).
With regard to commercialisation, in 2018 our main efforts focused on (i) finding a partner to develop a gene therapy for the treatment of Huntington’s disease and other rare CNS diseases, based on proprietary zinc finger proteins, and (ii) successfully completing the due diligence process undertaken by a well-known international pharmaceutical company. We expect to be in a position to sign an R&D with an option for a license agreement for the preclinical and clinical development of the aforementioned therapy in Q1 2019, thus closing more than 10 years of joint effort between the main researcher principal investigator and the TBDO team at the CRG.
A major effort was also made to promote collaboration with industry, yielding 4 collaborative projects in the field of fertility, with several others in the pipeline. Moreover, a number of license agreements, signed or ongoing in 2018 (2 new ones in nutraceuticals and proprietary software) will contribute to the income generated by CRG technologies and know-how. Overall, a fine year in terms of technology transfer that complements the excellent research conducted at the CRG!