Alta Innovations and Abingdon Health: expanding the commercial potential of university intellectual property

Alta Innovations and Abingdon Health: expanding the commercial potential of university intellectual property

A joint venture between the University of Birmingham’s technology company and Abingdon Health has successfully developed an alternative model for bringing university IP to market.

This case study orginally appeared on page 53 of the State of the Relationship 2014 Report. The report outlines the state of university-business collaboration in the UK, featuring expert views and over forty case studies. Read the full report.

Alta Innovations Ltd is the University of Birmingham’s 100 per cent owned subsidiary technology transfer company. It recently sought to commercialise a number of new intellectual property patent opportunities in the area of medical diagnostics.

Following an initial approach from the management team of Abingdon Health, a specialist medical diagnostics company operating in London and Oxford, Alta Innovations facilitated the establishment of Bioscience Ventures Limited (BSVL) - a joint venture between the university and Abingdon Health that aimed to develop new diagnostic tools for markets where there are currently unmet needs.

The management team at Abingdon Health has extensive experience of the healthcare diagnostics markets and a profound understanding of healthcare customer base, making them ideal partners to support the development and commercialisation of medical diagnostics intellectual property originating from the university.

The Alta Innovations team played a key role in establishing the BSVL joint venture, working externally with Abingdon Health to develop the market case for the various elements of the business, and internally within the university to gain joint venture buy-in from university management. The team also facilitated the necessary co-investment and the establishment of an appropriate governance structure.

One challenge to address was the high cost of experienced management. Another was that university intellectual property (IP) is often patented early in order to allow publication. This often makes it too immature to realise significant value, while the time needed for further development means the university’s commercial stake is diluted.

The BSVL joint venture approach has provided an efficient alternative to the normal models of commercialising university intellectual property. It has allowed high management costs to be shared across more than one medical diagnostics opportunity, and has ensured that individuals with sector-specific commercial experience could facilitate rapid product development. By developing a project which was managed by commercially experienced industry professionals and partnered with the world class IP and technology developed at the university, the collaboration creates maximum value for the inventors, the university and the joint company.

Since its formation in 2010, BSVL has received investment from both partners of £2m to accelerate development. Today, BSVL is a centre of excellence for the commercialisation of medical diagnostics and services. Its creation has enhanced and expanded the commercial applications of IP created by the university, focussing on diagnostic areas such as oncology, infectious diseases and genetic diseases.

In the two years following the launch of the venture, the chemical analysis and speciality chemicals manufacturing entity based on campus has become a profitable focal point, employing 16 staff. Two further subsidiary companies have been created too – Serascience, a specialist cancer diagnostic company, and Linear Diagnostics, which recently secured a £392,000 award from the Technology Strategy Board to fund a project diagnosing pathogens in harvested crops.

The skills and experience of Alta Innovations staff have been instrumental throughout, collaborating on and developing commercial opportunities with Abingdon Health, while managing the necessary relationships within and outside the university. The success of this venture was recognised with the prestigious Open Collaboration Award in 2012.

Expand for more
Working with business throughout your academic career: working with and spinning out your own business

Academic collaboration with industry is becoming increasingly important, with the evolution of REF and the significance attached to impact.

University of Birmingham partners with Birmingham City Council to deliver degree apprenticeships

The University of Birmingham has signed an agreement with Birmingham City Council to address skills gap.

Railway research collaboration wins prestigious industry award

The partnership between the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education and Abtus Ltd won in the small-scale project category.

Aston, Minerva and University of Birmingham to launch new investor network

Minerva Business Angels partners with Aston University and University of Birmingham Enterprise to launch new angel investor network for Birmingham.

How to design the best Degree Apprenticeship programmes

Jade Westwood, Degree Apprenticeships Manager at the University of Birmingham on the future of Degree Apprenticeships and the lessons learnt.

How do you create a best practice Business Engagement team?

Gurmit Kler, Director of Business Engagement at the University of Birmingham shares her top tips on how to build a successful business engagement team.

Birmingham to lead ground-breaking research into patient experience of cell therapies

Birmingham health researchers, with industry partners, have been awarded £1.1 million to investigate patients’ experience of cell and gene therapies.

Abingdon Health launches App that transforms a Smartphone into a rapid analytical tool

Abingdon Health, tenant of the biomedical incubator BioHub Birmingham®, has launched an intuitive software application.

Centre for Custom Medical Devices to create new generation of 3D healthcare innovations

The centre brings together multidisciplinary expertise to explore the full potential of additive manufacturing in the healthcare sector.

New technology transfer network set to accelerate innovation in the Midlands

Partnership will support spin-out companies, helping them obtain finance, expertise, and accelerating rate at which innovations are able to be commercialised.

BioHub Birmingham® develops new incubator space to meet increasing demand for biomedical facilities

University of Birmingham Enterprise's BioHub Birmingham® is constructing 5,000sq ft of self-contained laboratory and office suites.

Revolutionising Rail

This year has seen the leadership and work of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education.

Business incubator alumnus goes from Batteries to Baywatch

With support from the University of Birmingham’s business incubator BizzInn, Birmingham start-up Aceleron has found a better way to build lithium batteries.

Driving innovation: Growing the relationship between P&G and the University of Birmingham

Sam Hickman has been awarded P&G’s Connect+Develop award for his role in growing the relationship between P&G and the University of Birmingham.

Transforming responsible business practice

In late 2017, one of the University of Birmingham’s most impressive business collaborations was announced - the Lloyds Banking Group Centre for Responsible Business.

Blending the best of the real with the best of the virtual

The University of Birmingham’s Human Interface Technologies (HIT) Team is designing innovative transformations for the future of emergency response training.

Collaborating with the University of Birmingham

From atoms to astronomy and robots to robust materials, this video provides a snapshot of the variety of physical sciences research conducted at the University.

Innovative and visionary University of Birmingham collaboration

University of Birmingham works with marketing agency to explore the impact of figurative messages within advertising using state-of-the- art technologies.

10 ways the University of Birmingham is transforming business

Robust, tangible and productive collaborations that are having a direct impact on the way business operates.

Twycross Zoo Animation

The Business Engagement team has brought the project at the heart of the University of Birmingham’s strategic relationship with Twycross Zoo to life.

Why the University of Birmingham is      opening a comprehensive school

To cultivate the next generation of business leaders, our relationship with students must begin at a very early age