Supporting innovation through public research
Friday, March 31, 2017
Public-private transfer (TPP). Behind this acronym lies the possibility for French companies to develop partnerships with French and European public research organizations. This opportunity for innovation was seized on by Virbac in 2009 and presented by the public research partnerships manager.
In 2016, French innovation is 18th in the world league table whereas public research in France is in 6th position. This discrepancy is evidence of a weakness in harnessing public research in France which led the State to establish a variety of measures on finance and structures aiming to improve the industrial exploitation of public research. It was in this context, and to boost its own product innovation, that Virbac has used TPP (Public-private transfer) since 2009, mainly through research partnerships and collaboration with SATT (Agencies for the acceleration of technological transfer).
Partnerships at the heart of TPP
Possibilities for forming partnerships based on projects originating in public research are many for Virbac across Europe as well as in France. There are various ways of going about this. First, Virbac can respond to tenders on a particular subject issued by research organizations which have links to private companies in different European countries. It is also possible to generate these subjects by bringing together a group of partners via the thematic tenders of the European Commission (the 2020 Vision research program). Indeed, Virbac has taken part, and still does, in some of these schemes in the sectors of leishmaniasis and porcine vaccines. The results of this work inform a decision on whether or not to continue with a project until a marketable product is produced.
SATTs, effective tools
Another element of TPP: the SATT. Set up in France in 2011 to facilitate the transfer of public research to private companies, they have very considerable funding (almost €900 million over several years) to finance proof of concept trials, jointly designed between a private partner and the public research organization. The private partner contributes significantly on the financial side only where the proof of concept trial is successful. Virbac has several projects under way with SATT on vaccines for companion and food producing animals as well as pharmaceutical products.
Seize the opportunities
What are the benefits for Virbac? Above all, access to interesting research projects and, thanks to the financing of proof of concept trials, taking them to a stage of development from which Virbac can take over completely. TPP also gives Virbac the chance to make itself known and develop a network of public partners the Group can use on other projects. This awareness is key for the company as the public consortia are regularly looking for private groups to support important research programs where they can benefit from exclusive exploitation rights to active agents.
Build the future
In practice, research is a long term process. TPP has already benefited Virbac in a variety of ways by supporting the development effort for CaniLeish and porcine vaccines. TPP aims to create development projects, followed by innovative marketable products, the first results of the proof of concept trials are expected between 2017 and 2020, depending on the subjects. Finally, Virbac regularly contributes to the organization of conferences and thematic meetings, initiated by veterinary associations such as SIMV, which are potential sources of research projects linked to the societal issues of tomorrow.