Exchange of best practice with Belgian KU Leuven
On 25 May 2022, a meeting was held with colleagues from the Knowledge and Technology Transfer Office of the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL). The aim of the meeting was to exchange experiences in the field of technology transfer in both institutions – KU Leuven Research and Development and Charles University. Analyst and patent specialist Antonín Králík participated with the Czech delegation on behalf of CUIP.
The MiCoBion project (Microbial Communities in Biomedical and Environmental Areas, and Systems Biology) is coordinated by the Faculty of Science of Charles University to strengthen the scientific excellence and innovation capacity of the BIOCEV laboratories. This is done through collaboration with the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and the Institut Jaques Monod (Paris Diderot University).
The Czech delegation learned about the modern tools used to incubate new projects, proven strategies for supporting spin-off companies and the overall thriving environment for research applications in the science parks and bio-incubators of KU Leuven.
“The meeting with representatives of KU Leuven Research & Development was a unique opportunity to get an insight into the inner workings of an institution that has been active in the field of technology transfer for 50 years. In exchanging experiences, we found that our approaches to the same goal sometimes differ significantly, which means that we can learn a lot from each other. Of particular interest to me was the introduction to the Centre for Drug Design and Discovery (CD3) by Dr Patrick Chaltin. CD3 is an incredible tool that helps get new drugs from academic research labs into practice, and having such a tool would be extremely useful for Charles University as well,” described the impact of the cooperation Antonín Králík, who presented the technology transfer of Charles University.
The impressive infrastructure of the Centre for Drug Design and Discovery there could be very helpful for close collaboration on pharmaceutical-oriented projects in the future, as it has managed to create an efficient system to support pharmaceutical products at all different stages of development in order to bring them to market.
“The local engaging, almost tangible highly motivated atmosphere is yielding results in the form of successful spin-off companies. KU Leuven strives to help its scientists and, by extension, new businesses to overcome the ‘valley of death’ that inevitably awaits every start-up. The biggest advantage of such an environment is the shared needs and how efficiently they are covered. That is why the CD3 centre was established – it has built a certified pipeline for preparing many different sophisticated biopharmaceutical innovations for clinical trials,” described the source of inspiration for the Czech delegation Jana Pilátová from the Faculty of Science of Charles University.
The intensive five-hour meeting, which was not interrupted by a single break, thanks to the involvement of all the participants, revolved around other points of the MiCoBion programme, such as sharing the latest bioinformatics findings or good practice in setting up biotechnology spin-offs.
“One of the key insights for us was the secret to LRD’s success, which has to do with how LRD works within the university. KU Leuven, like any other university, has a typical ‘vertical’ organisational structure consisting of faculties, departments and individual research groups. However, the LRD deliberately creates and stimulates a ‘horizontal’ structure of innovation centres that span across different fields of expertise. Here, individual research groups from different departments or faculties collaborate to bring the results of their research to the market, and LRD supports them in every way possible,” added Ondřej Vaněk, also from the Faculty of Science of Charles University, on the key topic of internal university collaboration.
BIOCEV is a joint research facility of six institutes of the Czech Academy of Sciences and two faculties of Charles University. It is located in Vestec near Prague, where it carries out scientific projects in the fields of biotechnology and biomedicine. Its activities are based on a triangle of excellent science, education and intensive cooperation with the commercial sector.