From Lab to Market: An Intergenerational Discussion

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We recently hosted From Lab to Market: An Intergenerational Discussion with Judith Sheft, Associate Vice President of Technology Development at New Jersey Institute of Technology. This webinar was a collaboration with curiousSCIENCEwriters, Young Women in Bio, and the Westchester Biotech Project focused on inspiring, educating, and providing advice for high schoolers heading into STEM careers.

Akila Saravanan, Editor-in-Chief of curiousSCIENCEwriters, hosted.
Click for her Blog post

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The Westchester Biotech Project and curiousSCIENCEwriters provide emerging pre-collegiate science students with inspiration and opportunities for collaborative communication. They encourage those interested to seek out the advisement of experts, in order to network and build a foundation of conceptual structure to draw upon in future years.
— Erin Colfax, Science Educator: Morristown High School / Summer STEM Director: College of Saint Elizabeth

Are You an Inventor, or Are You an Entrepreneur?

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We hosted Russell Thomas, CEO of NIRvana Sciences, for a webinar tailored to inventors considering making a business out of their scientific discovery. This was a part of our Commercialization A-Z web series and was recorded for the benefit of the community.

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Examples were given for the types of personalities and skills needed in a new venture, noting along the way that management teams and investment approaches should be carefully considered. While the technology may have potential in the market, the people surrounding it will ultimately determine its commercial success.

Each year you see a few technologies so compelling that they are pulled into the market regardless of management, but for the other 95% it is the people that make the difference.
— Russell Thomas, CEO, NIRvana Sciences

“Do people bet on the jockey (management), or do people bet on the horse (technology),” asked Russell Thomas early on. “Each year you see a few technologies so compelling that they are pulled into the market regardless of management, but for the other 95% it is the people that make the difference.”

Are You an Inventor, or Are You an Entrepreneur? asked for introspective approaches by inventors to identify which roles in the new venture process they can handle and which ones they will need help with.

Mr. Thomas gave examples of the likely roles an inventor will play in a startup, such as supporting further development of a technology to de-risk it commercially or acting as a CSO. Realistically, more often than not an inventor will need to identify a CEO or COO with extensive entrepreneurial experience to drive the company and bring in additional support. Laid out were common approaches startup CEOs take along with the personality traits and skills required to successfully manage the position.

“The skills sets between inventing and being an entrepreneur are substantially different, and it is very rare that an individual overlaps with both of those worlds,” he says. “Many people are solely inventors and not entrepreneurs,” he stated in the spirit of honest introspection backed by his experience.

Beginning a new company is a complex and risky endeavor one should not assume they can handle on their own. Bringing together a competent team is critical, and whether or not your team understands the complexities and can proactively address them will determine if your technology bears fruit commercially.

Reported by Christopher Kinzel

Christopher Kinzel, Associate for Communication, is a biochemist with a Professional Science Master’s (PSM) in Molecular Biosciences. He has a research and technology transfer background and is using his experience in business development and communications.

 

Rigor and Reproducibility: Minimizing Scientific Risk for Investors

In a recent webinar, Rick Huntress of The Jackson Laboratory identified key roadblocks for moving scientific discoveries through the development pipeline, part of our web series Commercialization A-Z. Click for More and Recording

Rigor and Reproducibility: Presenting Data for Funders and Investors discusses significant evaluation criteria employed by investors, academic publishers, and companies engaged in licensing or acquisition.

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“When a researcher or company enters into an agreement with a licensee or investor, the valuation of their underlying capabilities, intellectual property, and market potential drives the deal,” said Rick Huntress. “Experienced investors and companies value research that demonstrates a drug response, and helps to de-risk their investments from the traditional points of failure,” he says. “Unfortunately, it is still true that majority of drugs fail to move into the clinic after licensing.”

Mitigating Risks from the Beginning:

It’s crucial for researchers to understand and position their data with the investor’s perspective in mind. According to recent analysis, including work by the NIH, a much higher % of peer-reviewed in vivo animal data is unrepeatable than many researchers would expect. This reproducibility gap is creating barriers for trust and makes the need for well-defined models and methods essential.

When a researcher or company enters into an agreement with a licensee or investor, the valuation of their underlying capabilities, intellectual property, and market potential drives the deal.
— Rick Huntress

Animal models and cell lines must be carefully critiqued and selected based on clinically relevant characteristics. With some interesting examples, Rick underscores his guidance that failing to address the criteria investors appreciate in your research design will reduce the appeal of your technology.

The session offers multiple ways to de-risk your discovery and navigate the complex process of attracting more investors through building and presenting robust data.

Thanks, Rick and Eileen!
Rick is on our Advisory Board. At JAX, he works directly with researchers, sponsors, engineers, and data scientists to design and execute early-stage drug efficacy evaluations.

The session is moderated by Eileen Geoghegan, Ph.D., Research Fellow, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, a member of WBP’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Reported by Neha Nigam, Ph.D., and Christopher Kinzel

Neha Nigam, Ph.D., Strategy Project Manager at HITLAB, New York, is passionate about the applied aspects of innovative scientific discoveries and their impact. She strives to be at the interface of business and science and help in the commercialization and advancement of science to its right audience.

Christopher Kinzel, Associate for Communication, is a biochemist with a Professional Science Master’s (PSM) in Molecular Biosciences. He has a research and technology transfer background and is now using his experience in business development and communications.

Effective Communication in Biomedical Research: Launching a New Young Investigators Web Series

I have definitely been in a seminar where I had absolutely no idea what was going on, and maybe you have too -- the scientist standing on the podium spewing out abbreviations for proteins and speeding through detailed processes, with excitement about how there was a 13% increase in.. something. I’m still sitting here wondering what the first abbreviation meant, where it fits in, and why it’s so important.

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A big picture foothold on the topic that is understandable will provide a mental framework for your audience to grasp the important details.

Laura Green, Ph.D., Consortium Project Manager at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, shared her knowledge of science communication in our Young Investigator Webinar Series. Doreen Badheka, Ph.D., Program Director at Rutgers Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and our co-chair for the Young Investigator cohort, moderated the sessions.

Good communication depends on how you approach telling your science story.
— Dr. Laura Green

“Good communication depends on how you approach telling your science story,” says Dr. Green. “I like to find out as much as I possibly can about the audience, and the environment, that I’m going to be walking into. You need to start making some assumptions about how you’re going to communicate, even if you’re talking to other scientists.”

This requires some investigation prior to constructing a presentation. What is the one take home message you would like your audience to walk away with? Can they find that important message in your diagram? Do they use the same technical terms you do? If they saw your data, would it just be a confusing mess of numbers? Can they connect the details of what you are presenting to its importance in the big picture? If you didn’t know what you know, would anything you’re saying make sense to you?

Our Young Investigator Webinar Series provides early-career researchers, engineers, and data scientists with content and discussions they may not have experienced during their education. Webinars throughout the year provide practical insights, professional development, and an insider’s view on various aspects of biotechnology.

Click for Recordings
Young Investigators Webinar Series: Effective Communication in Biomedical Research
Session 1 - Science Communication: General Concepts and Tips
Session 2 - Peer-to-Peer Communication

Christopher Kinzel is the Associate for Communication at the Westchester Biotech Project. He is a biochemist with a Professional Science Master’s (PSM) in Molecular Biosciences. He has a research and technology transfer background, and is now using his experience for business development and communication.