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Technology commercialization from Israeli perspective – interview with Gil Granot Mayer fro

Technology commercialization from Israeli perspective – interview with Gil Granot Mayer from YEDA

Publish date: 2014-03-31

Israel has been known for a long time to have a well-developed life science sector. They are also experts in placing their hi-tech technologies on the market. Gil Granot-Mayer, Deputy CEO & General Counsel of YEDA (institution responsible for technology transfer from the Weizmann Institute of Science), gave us his insight on the issues related to commercialization of life science-related technologies.

Tags: bioforum 2014 , Israel , Yeda , Weizmann Institute of Science , Gil Granot-Mayer , technology transfer

Gil Granot-Mayer will also give a presentation on related topics during BioForum 2014 that will take place in Poland in May. More details about the event are available on its official website: http://cebioforum.com/

 

Do you think that technologies related to life sciences are easier or more difficult to commercialize than others?

Gil Granot-Mayer: In my opinion life science technologies are more difficult to commercialize. If you license to a small startup the funding needs of such startup in the life science sector are very significant and this funding is needed relatively very early. Accordingly the risk is big.

If you manage to license to a more mature company, then although the commercial model of the licensing deal is relatively well established you need to compete in an extremely competitive market of IP owners for the attention of few potential licensees.

Again, the huge investment needed both in time and funding for life science technologies makes the commercialization a bigger challenge.

 

From all life science-related technologies, can you point out what kinds are the most troubling when it comes to their commercialization?

Gil Granot-Mayer: The most challenging technologies for commercialization are platform technologies that could be relevant and applicable for a variety of uses/ indications. Such technologies could be a novel delivery system or a new composition of matter that has multiple potential indications. The challenge here is how to effectively commercialize the technology for multiply indications or uses.

Other challenging technologies are those which involve a scientific breakthrough which is so significant that the marketplace is not ready to accept. In these cases we have found that it could take some years (losing precious patent coverage time) till we manage to find a commercial partner.

One example of this that occurred at the Weizmann Institute of Science is the COP-1 that was developed at the laboratory of Profs. Michael Sela and Ruth Arnon at the early 70’s. This was the first synthetic co-polymer that was ever used as a drug and it took Yeda over a decade to find a commercial partner. Nowadays it is known as the drug Copaxone (licensed to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.) and it is directed for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

 

And which ones are the easiest to put out on the market?

Gil Granot-Mayer: Well-matured technologies possessing a significant amount of data for the treatment of a valid yet-untreated medical need, and that have a significant market demand will always be a more ideal situation in which to commercialize.

 

What conditions should a life science technology fulfill to be an attractive investment opportunity?

Gil Granot-Mayer: A hot property or area of interest - such as cancer, cell therapy etc. An active academic partner who has a successful commercial track record. Technology maturity – strong scientific background supported by a secure proof of concept in a well-established model. Strong patent protection.

 

What are the most serious problems that an inventor can come across when trying to commercialize their idea?

Gil Granot-Mayer: I can touch upon the tech transfer company’s perspective. The following problems are very common:

- Possible shelving of the technology by the Licensee. The solution is contractual (performance milestones, annual license fee, monitoring mechanism etc.).

- Lack of funding. The solution is to screen potential licensees, only contract licensees which have raised adequate capital, skillful ongoing monitoring of licensee activities, and collaboration with licensees to help them in their financing efforts.

- Failure in development. This risk is hard to avoid. To mitigate this risk it is advised to check the potential licensee’s capabilities before licensing the technology, and ensure that the Inventor will have some ability to consult or direct the development process.

 

Can you see any growing or decreasing tendency in the investor's interest in life sciences over the last few years?

Gil Granot-Mayer: In Israel we see a clear tendency of the VC community to invest more in high-tech and telecommunication technologies than in life sciences. The global financial crisis over the last few years coupled with the significant funding these projects require lack of funding in the life science sector.

 

You agreed to give a presentation during BioFourm 2014. What topics are you going to focus on?

Gil Granot-Mayer: My talk will focus on the way that Yeda Research & Development Co. Ltd. commercializes its biotechnologies. I will also touch upon issues such as: bridging the gap from early stage technology to successful commercialization; management of relationships with academic personnel; along with best practices & ideas plus success stories.

 

Yeda Research & Development Company LTD.

Yeda Research and Development Company Ltd (“Yeda”) is responsible for technology transfer from the Weizmann Institute of Science (the “Institute”), Israel's leading center of research and graduate education. The Institute's activities range across the spectrum of contemporary sciences and technologies. Yeda holds an exclusive agreement with the Institute for the marketing and commercialization of new developments emerging from the Institute's laboratories.

 

Gil Granot-Mayer - biographical note

Gil Granot-Mayer joined Yeda in 2006 and is currently serving as the Deputy CEO & General Counsel of the Company.

Gil is responsible for leading the negotiations of the various licensing deals of Yeda’s diverse technologies (including :Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology, Energy, Cleantech, Research & Medical Devices, and Materials & Interfaces). In addition as the General Counsel of Yeda, Gil also manages the litigation activities of the company including multinational patent litigation and licensing disputes.

Prior to joining Yeda, Gil practiced law as a litigator and commercial attorney in the private sector in several of the top prestigious law firms in Israel.

Gil holds an MBA degree from the Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration as well as a LL.B. degree (cum laude) (Tel-Aviv University).

Gil is a member of the Israel Bar Association since 1997, and a frequent speaker in various forums covering issues related to Intellectual Property, licensing and technology transfer from the academia.

Selected talks:

2013 - Lex Mundi Cross-Border Transactions Practice Group Global Meeting (Tel Aviv).

2012 - The 3rd China IP Forum and Innovation Exhibition 2012 (Taizhou, China)

2011 – The International Bar Association Technology Law Committee (Tel Aviv).

2010 - The Third Charité Entrepreneurship Summit 2010 (Berlin)

 

by Tomasz Domagała

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