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"We have build a common platform for representing our interests" - an interview with Prof.

"We have build a common platform for representing our interests" - an interview with Prof. Ing. Martin Fusek, Csc, the director of MedChemBio cluster

Publish date: 2013-12-20

“Union gives strength.”- a tagline of ‘The Bundle of Sticks’, one of the fables written in the 6th century B.C. by Æsop, seems to be never phased out. It is current even in the biotechnology sector where small and medium companies by cooperation with academic institutes, major professional societies, suppliers, investors and chiefly with themselves gain new possibilities. Such partnerships allow them to carry on more researches and put new products on the market more rapidly. However, they have to be set up, coordinated and organized. The cluster MedChemBio provides such service being a key player in activities such as technology transfer, spin-off companies creation, assessment of intellectual property, organization of substances testing and legislation of new products. We are talking with Prof. Ing. Martin Fusek, CSc., the director of MedChemBio cluster.

Tags: czech republic , interview , Martin Fusek , MedChemBio , cluster

Could you please summarize your activities to date? What it the biggest achievement of the cluster?

The cluster was established in 2009 with financial support from the state agency CzechInvest. The second round of this started in 2012. Within the nearly first five years we organized more than ten seminars devoted to our main topics – medicinal chemistry and chemical biology. Basing on the original project there was purchased new equipment for semi-pilot plant and for QC lab located in Olomouc. We support the members of the cluster with important informations like the one of BioForum. Important part of the cluster activities is sharing space cost on fairs like Bio in US and other meetings. Probably the most important achievement is successful building of a common platform for representing our interests within the state policy makers.

What are the plans for the nearest future? Are there any new projects that you are going to conduct?

The plans for next year are clear – we would like to continue the “basic metabolism” of the cluster in the terms of information flow, seminar organization, interconnection of members etc. Nonetheless, we would like to increase the activity of the cluster in the international environment and would like to establish vivid contacts with similar clusters in Europe. We will be present at Bio in San Diego in June and we have to be well prepared for this prominent meeting. Also we plan to attend CPHI in Paris next year. We would also like to invite more Czech members of the cluster and to expand our cooperation with similar clusters within the Czech Republic.

What is current situation in the Czech Bio sector? Is it possible for Czech companies to compete with those of the European Community?

This is not an easy question and I am not sure I am the right person to answer. There are several positive and some negative factors. The positive ones are long term tradition of the Bio and Pharma sector in the Czech Republic. Also there is a strong educational base in the field related to Bio – both at Universities and Institutes of Academy of Sciences. The country has received major support from EU for building new infrastructures (CEITEC, ICRC, BIOCEV, BIOMEDREG etc) which also can support the development of the Bio sector. The negative points are : relatively unfriendly legal environment for spin-off formation, lack of VC in the area of Bio and low level of entrepreneurship within the scientific community. But there are first islands of positive deviation mainly in the area of service companies. We have one very successful Biotech company – Contipro a.s. which is one of dominant producers of hyaluronic acid in the world and which invests most of the profit back into research and development. An example of success of an academic institution is the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic – the antiviral compounds discovered by prof. Holý at this Institute are now being commercialized by US company Gilead Sci. and are creating a strong royalty stream for the Institute. This success now have motivated other academic institutions to become interested in the field of Biotech.

What do you think about the BioForum? Do you think that participation in such conferences can lead to establishment of new partnerships?

I have visited BioForum in Brno, two years ago and found it very rich in scientific value and as a place for networking and looking for commercial partners, customers, investors etc.

Thank you for your time.



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