The oldest university technology transfer center turns 20 years old

Two decades of activity of the University Technology Transfer Center of the University of Warsaw (UOTT) provided an opportunity to discuss the challenges of commercialization of science and further directions of development of the university in the field of cooperation with business.

November 27, 2018. The celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the UOTT UW was held in the building of the Old Library of the University of Warsaw. It is the oldest technology transfer center in Poland established at the university. The event provided an opportunity to meet university authorities, scientistsow and directoroat UOTT with representatives of business. A wide range of discussions took place On the challenges facing Polish universities today who want to deepen the cooCooperation with the market and social environment. Mowere discussing what conditions the university can provide for research teams and students today, so as to stimulate commercialization, and at the same time, how to improve the operation of centroin technology transfer in terms of the expectations of companies looking for new solutions and wspocooperation with the scientific world.

– What wyrożnias the best universities, is not only to conduct groundbreaking research and quality education. It is also a strong influence on the environment, through commercialization of the resultsoin research work and supporting entrepreneurship employeeow, doctoral studentow and studentow. At the UW we are developing many initiatives in this direction. The University Technology Transfer Center is in operation, spoUWRC special purpose vehicle, Incubator. These are places in whichorych everyone can get help in implementing their plansow. Our activities in this area are yielding results. In recent years, more than a dozen sp have already been established at the universityospin-off company, and the incubator’s offerings are very popular with our community – said Dr. hab. Marcin Pałys, prof. UW, rector of the University of Warsaw.

Amongod participantoThe event included Jacek Kosiec, one of the initiators of theoin the creation of UOTT (currently managing director at a technology spoCreotech) and prof. Wojciech Dominik, long-time director of UOTT. Both men emphasized the difficult beginnings of the formation of UOTT structures and competencies – The center was established at a time when in Poland, apart from the first two centers established at polytechnics, there was no such organization yet. Prof. Wojciech Dominik recalled that from the beginning it was a grassroots initiative carried out by a group of several employees of theoin the scientific. – Since there was no pattern in PolandoIn the first years of UOTT’s operation, I formed the principles of UOTT’s operation based on the good practices of the center,” he saidoin universities in the UK. Interestingly, for the first years of its operation, UOTT subsisted solely on the means ofoin the external ones obtained on their own. Nonetheless, in the first few years we managed to develop and implement at the University of Warsaw regulations for conducting scientific work and procedures for conducting projectoin commercialization. These were the foundations for spreading the principles of ensuring the protection of intellectual property created at the university – mentioned prof. Wojciech Dominik.

Today, UOTT operates on the basis of good practices developed over the past two decades. – Currently, the center has fifteen employeesoD. students, whoowho support scientistsoin several fields. First, from the side of ensuring the protection of intellectual property – As part of the office of the. patentow. Secondly, scientists have at their disposal a team of several peopleoł brokeroin technology, whichowho, on their behalf, establish a jointoCooperation with business representatives. There is a sp at the UOTToUW special purpose vehicle, UWRC, whichora takes stakes on behalf of the university in spospin-off companies and supports their developmentoj in the first years of operation. UWRC takes care of the roAlso promising projects submitted by studentow and employeeoin science, whichore they get to the pre-incubation stage. From pohe UW Incubator has been operating within the UOTT for a year, with whichohe offer has already benefited about three thousand peopleob. The incubator, on the one hand, develops entrepreneurial competencies in the participants, and, on the other hand, closes the full process of technology transfer at the first stage of its creation. Because this is where the creation and selection of hundreds of ideas takes placeoin whichoAfter a phase of refinement they may turn into a pre-incubated project, spin-off or invention – moD. Robert Dwiliński, current director of UOTT.

During the celebrationoin the field ofoThe companies have been established in previous years spoUniversity spin-offs and scientists – twoinventorsoin with high commercialization potential. Head awardsoThe best projects were awarded in the categories of best społki spin-off and the best commercializing scientific team. The first of these awardsod received the teamoThe test is carried out byoThe Warsaw Genomics team, headed by Dr. hab. med. Anna Wojcicka and prof. med. Krystian Jażdżewski. Warsaw Genomics specializes in performing testoin genetic – spohe machine reads genes to diagnose current diseases, determine the risk of their occurrence in the future, or select the best therapy for a given patient. Thanks to this, scientists are building a 21st century medicine in Poland, in which theorej patient care is conducted in the manner ofob tailored to its individual needs.

The award for the best commercializing team was received by three scientistsow: Joanna Kowalska, Ph. Jacek Jemielity and prof. Ph. Edward Darżynkiewicz. The awarded teamoł discovered a method for obtaining a durable and effective mRNA, whichore today being used by pharmaceutical companies to develop innovative cancer vaccines. The discoveries proved unrivaled on a global scale, which sparked the interest of global pharmaceutical companies, and the technology transfer made in this field is considered the largest in the history of Polish science – To date, two pharmaceutical companies have bought sublicenses to the Polak-developedoThe company will invest a total of 670 million PLN in sustainable and effective mRNAoin dollarsow.

Amongod guests included representatives of companies with a stake in technology transfer originating from the University of Warsaw – Wiktor Janicki, CEO of Roche Poland, one of the pharmaceutical companies thatora invested in the Polish invention, as well as Marek Metrycki, CEO of Deloitte in Poland, a company thatora supports the development ofoj of the Researching Genes program implemented by Warsaw Genomics.

– For several years now, we have had the honor of supportingohe University Technology Transfer Center of the UW draws creativity and inspiration to create innovative, out-of-the-box solutions, which are the most important in the history of Polish scienceore are so important in the cooThe award was presented to three scientists from the field of modern medicine, rosharing their know-how in parallel – moWiktor Janicki, CEO of Roche Polska, said. – I very much hope that the public-private partnerships we have initiated, whichore bring new value to the development of health care and the Polish economy, will affect the perception of the potential of wspocooperation of science and business. We believe that our involvement will open other partnersoin the wspoCooperation with academic centers – added Wiktor Janicki.

– One exampleoin the transfer of technology developed at the University of Warsaw to business can be a jointoDeloitte’s cooperation with the university’s spoWarsaw Genomics spin-off company. Warsaw Genomics, using a novel method, conducts genetic tests to determine the risk of ovarian, breast and prostate malignancies as part of the Badamy Genes program – explained Marek Metrycki, CEO of Deloitte in Poland. – We became involved in the Badamy Geny screening program because the benefits for our employeesow resulting from the avoidance of a serious disease or its faster detection are unporownnually greater than any other benefit. In addition to helping our employeesoWe have been committed to the roalso on supporting Polish innovation. The program is being implemented by a very young, highly innovative company with a unique research and prevention formula that allows patients to address the risks of cancer regardless of the program’soin implemented by the public health service – Marek Metrycki added.

The winners of the awardod in the panel discussion said what factors helped them achieve market success. In both cases, it was a successful response to market needs – In the case of Warsaw Genomics, this is a social need, in the case of the team of prof. Jack Jemielite – interest of pharmaceutical companies. Both teams, in addition to the possibility of using the research potential available within the walls of the university – laboratoriow, funding, available scientific staff – valued the autonomy and freedom of the researcher, ktore allowed to decide independently on the directions to conduct the experimentow. From the perspective of the spohe spin-off company’s credibility in the first years of operation was crucial, resulting from the ability to use the brand and prestige of the University of Warsaw. In turn, prof. Jacek Jemielity pointed out that at a certain stage of commercialization, negotiating competence proved invaluable, ktore provided by a foreign research partner, a university from Stanoin the United.

What, in the opinion of business, will allow better commercialization of Polish scientists?- In order for business relations with innovative research centers to be even better developed in the future, we should definitely pay more attention to the training of soft competencies in young people, including the ability to restoreoThe tests were carried out on the basis of the results of the tests, which will be carried out in the first phase of commercialization of the projectoalso critical insight and risk assessment of business ventures. Possessing such competencies will make it easier for young scientists to build their own business background and circle of ambassadors ofoin a market thatoers will support them in the initial commercialization phase of the projectow – moMarek Metrycki of Deloitte.

During the ceremony, the awarded scientists wspolnie with the heads of large companies discussed challenges in the field of commercialization of science and wspocooperation with business. Supportolnie wondered what solutions should be implemented so that universities could deepen the wspohe cooperation with its environment and implement more projectsow on the scale of Warsaw Genomics or the achievements of the team of prof. Jacek Jemielite. Several challenges were identified, among themod ktowhich highlighted the need:

  • strengthening the negotiating competence of universities with experienced market players,
  • To regulate the issue of responsibility for decisions made in the field of commercialization,
  • implement good practices to reduce the risk of technological espionage,
  • improving the remuneration system of the brokeroin technology so that it uses commission elements from commercialized projectow,
  • better organization of the communication process throughout the area to describe the nature and significance of scientific achievements and promote them outside the university.

How to wspolnie agreed with the panelists, UOTT operating at the university, whichory has been at the top of the ranking for yearsoin Poland’s top universities, is well on its way to looking ahead with courage and boldness.