Top US, UK, and EU universities working together to help economies fuel post-COVID recovery


21st September 2020

TenU, the transatlantic collaboration of ten top technology transfer offices, has held its inaugural event bringing together university and government leaders.

Welcoming the initiative, Matt Perkins, CEO of Oxford University Innovation, said, “OUI is proud to be a member of the TenU group. This opens up new opportunities for us to work together on sharing best practise and understanding of how innovation, technology transfer and licensing deliver societal and economic benefits. We are looking forward to developing joint programmes that will build on the strong commercialisation performance already being delivered by TenU Universities.”

Ten world-leading US, UK, and EU universities are discussing with leaders in national governments and funding bodies how to harness the enormous potential of research and commercialisation for the urgent economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. University researchers contributed to alleviating the COVID-19 crisis, helping to save lives by engineering new breathing devices and testing appliances and working tirelessly to develop effective vaccines. The economic challenges ahead present an opportunity to build on innovations in research to stimulate economies with wealth and jobs.

At their inaugural event last week, members of TenU, the trans-Atlantic research commercialisation collaboration of the universities of Cambridge (UK), Columbia (USA), Edinburgh (UK), Imperial College London (UK), Leuven (Belgium), Manchester (UK), MIT (USA), Oxford (UK), Stanford (USA), and UCL (UK), and senior and leading university and academic figures started discussing with US and UK high-level policy officials how best to translate public investments in research into new products, businesses and jobs.

In addition to best practice discussions, the TenU event reviewed and compared current government and national policy hot topics, including the US bipartisan bill “Endless Frontier Act” and the UK Government’s R&D Roadmap, which addresses research and innovation support and policy.

Speakers included Walter Copan, the US Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology who is also the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology; David Goldston, MIT’s Washington DC Office Director, and David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England, as well as US, UK and EU Directors of the TenU technology transfer offices (TTOs).

“At the National Institute of Standards and Technology, we know the value of collaboration and bringing together experts to solve critical global challenges. I was pleased to join David Sweeney and colleagues of leading institutions in the US and UK to participate in this important trans-Atlantic dialogue on the role of technology-based innovation in economic recovery”, said Walter Copan. “It is essential that we consider new policy approaches and adopt best practices to enable agility and speed in public-private partnerships for innovation. Effectively moving discoveries from the lab to the market is a top priority goal of the U.S. Government.”

David Sweeney said: “I was delighted to be asked to speak alongside Walt Copan on this important topic. It is even more important now to work together to tackle the challenges of economic recovery, and to learn from each other on both policy and practice. TenU has already created good transatlantic relationships with university technology transfer offices and policy makers, and I know we can call on US experts, as they can call on us. I look forward to continuing this collaborative working partnership to address these challenges together.”

“We are so fortunate to have the US’s and UK’s preeminent policymakers and research commercialisation professionals from these outstanding peer universities here to discuss both best practices and the much-needed government policies to support innovation”, said Tony Raven, CEO of Cambridge Enterprise, the technology transfer office of the University of Cambridge, who chaired the event.

Research discoveries often lead to great ideas for revolutionary products and new industries. Technology transfer offices at universities work hard with academic researchers to develop their ideas, technologies and inventions into attractive opportunities for industry and investors to benefit the economies and societies at a global scale.

TenU Universities Fighting COVID-19 with new discoveries

Researchers and technology transfer offices of the TenU universities have been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 and again demonstrated during this pandemic that they have the expertise, networks and systems in place to respond to an emergency quickly and effectively and find the solutions that save lives.

In the early stages of the pandemic, several TenU members supported the quick design and production of breathing devices for COVID-19 patients. UCL worked on designs of a new breathing aid developed by engineers at UCL, Mercedes-AMG HPP and clinicians at UCLH. The breathing aid was produced within 100 hours from the initial meeting to production of the first device, leading to a UK Government order for up to 10,000 devices.

TenU members advanced at least four of the most widely used rapid testing devices. DnaNudge, a scale up based at Imperial’s White City campus, received an order of £161 million to deploy 5000 devices across the UK. TenU members also advanced four different vaccines and received £130 million from governments to continue trials. By July, Oxford researchers had entered into a partnership with Astra Zeneca to develop and manufacture vaccines, and are now trialling the vaccine with 30,000 patients around the world.

Karin Immergluck, Executive Director of Stanford’s Office of Technology Licensing, said: “Researchers and supporting teams have played a critical role in advancing research and developing initiatives to aid in the fight against COVID-19. Now more than ever we need collaboration between the brightest minds across academia, business, government, and industry to tackle the global challenges that face us all. Through our transatlantic collaboration, TenU will continue to benefit from its shared wisdom and use its expertise to develop and commercialise our stellar research across the technology transfer offices of our premier universities.”

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