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At AUTM, Technology Transfer Still Remains A Contact Sport for Invitrogen and Bio-Rad

Phoenix — Representatives from Invitrogen and Bio-Rad Laboratories joined law firms, software companies, and university technology-transfer offices hosting booths at the Association of University Technology Managers conference, which concluded here Saturday.

Invitrogen’s booth, staffed by Joydeep Goswami, director of corporate development, and Rolando Brawer, director of business development, was at the back of the exposition hall, in nearly the last booth.

Still, the potential for acquiring just one technology that the company had targeted (see list below) apparently justified the cost of booth, as well as its booth giveaway — a box containing an Invitrogen coffee cup and a bag of coffee.

“Strategically, it’s important for us to be here to meet people,” Goswami told BioCommerce Week. “A lot of our deals come from universities and we want to see every technology before our competitors.”

A few rows closer to the front of the exhibition hall, Bio-Rad’s booth was attended by Andrew Stapleton, technology development manger for business development, and Gerrit van Roekel, director of business development for life sciences.

Like Invitrogen, Bio-Rad was there to meet and greet.

“The main thing we are getting out of this is good contacts with tech-transfer people and inventors,” Roekel said.

Pressing the Flesh

The conference brought together some 1,600 technology-transfer managers from universities in the US and Canada, as well as others from across the globe for three days of educational seminars, keynote speeches — and perhaps, deals.

While a lot of the back-office mechanics of technology transfer is automated with software based on supply-chain management techniques — there are at least five companies competing to supply these applications while the front end is still largely based on personal contact, such as a meeting at a trade show, an exchange of business cards, or a telephone call.

No Electronic Market Makers

There is no established electronic mechanism to match buyers and sellers and automate the sale of intellectual property, or technology licenses, or to set a price for a deal and establish a royalty scheme. All of this is subject to negotiation.

For Invitrogen, an active acquirer of technology, the process starts with a quick thumbs-up or thumbs-down for a potential deal, Goswami said.

If it passes the initial screen, a confidentiality agreement is signed and the company begins the due-diligence process, which can take from two months to two years to complete, Goswami said.

In this process, the company’s legal team examines the patents for the technology, while another group from R&D and the commercial side conducts due diligence on the technology, determining market needs and how it might fit into the portfolio, and whether it provides a competitive advantage, he said.

Bio-Rad’s Roekel said his unit is new to the company.

“About a year and half ago, the in-licensing and acquisition of technology was an ad hoc process run by marketing and R&D,” he said. “The company centralized it and our job is look out for new technologies that will work well with Bio-Rad.”

He said the evaluation process for a deal can take from two weeks to a year and is part of the company’s larger strategy.

— Mo Krochmal ([email protected])

The technology areas that Invitrogen,
Bio-Rad Laboratories, and Applied
Biosystems listed as being of
interest at AUTM:
Invitrogen: Screening tools; sensitive quantitative labeling and detection; genomics, proteomics and RNAi technologies; cell culture technologies/bioproduction tools; biomarkers (especially cancer); microfluidics solutions/platforms; and sample preparation technologies.
Bio-Rad: Cell and protein function analysis; gene expression; protein separation and analysis; clinical diagnostics; and food science.

Applied Biosystems: While ABI did not have a booth at AUTM, a representative of the company distributed a glossy pamphlet listing the company’s desired technologies.

Cell-imaging methods for non-invasive molecular phenotyping; detection platforms for single-cell and single-molecule detection; delivery systems for any molecule in any cell and in vivo; enzymes; food and water testing, bio-defense/biosecurity applications; in vivo, real-time monitoring of gene expression; lab-based high-throughput phenotyping; nucleic acid detection and manipulation; DNA synthesis; protein detection and manipulation; perturbations of cellular functions; and sample preparation.


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