But finding that perfect product is just the first step. For an academic alliance to be a success, the benefits of the relationship
must be mutual. The academic institution will have a list of requirements just as the biotech company will come to the table
with its list of must-haves. The greatest fear for academia is to see its research go to waste; academia dreads placing technology
in the hands of a commercial enterprise that may not provide the dedicated attention needed to find a signal for continued
development. For this reason, academic institutions look for a strong commitment from the company's senior management, favorable
deal terms, market depth in a specific therapeutic area, and alignment with the partner's core strategy. All these characteristics
help ensure that the product is important enough to warrant the company's full focus—and won't get dropped by the wayside.
Unlike big companies, which sometimes push academic institutions aside, small biotechs are the preferred choice for academic-institution
alliances. They are more focused and have a greater interest in developing the acquired technology collaboratively. In a typical
license agreement, academic institutions reap such benefits as an up-front fee, annual payments, milestone payments, earned
royalties, and payment for patent expenses.
Companies and academic institutions are forming alliances at an increasing rate to exploit the promise of emerging biological
In today's environment, fully integrated biopharmaceuticals, such as Amgen, Genentech, and Biogen Idec, continue to commercialize
innovative drugs from academic labs and small companies alike.
For start-up companies, the considerable business risk of funding early-stage innovative science can cause many venture capitalists
to shy away. Instead, they will increasingly look to academic settings where drug-discovery programs can often be more securely
established and maintained . After all, government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health among others, recognize
the significance of drug discovery as an important and enduring contribution to healthcare and society.
Early-stage biopharma companies are poised to be the partners of choice for academic institutions. These companies not only
bring focus to the product and relentless energy to the task, but they also provide flexibility in accelerating new generations'
therapies to enhance patient care.
Mark J. Ahn, (email@example.com
) is president and chief executive officer, Fred Vitale (firstname.lastname@example.org
) is vice president of business development, and Victor Tong, Jr. (email@example.com
) is financial analyst for Hana Biosciences.