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Partnering with Industry to fund innovation and commercialisation, the tale of Linkage!

By December 18, 2015SNC News, Uncategorised


The Australian Research Council (ARC) administers a number of programmes to fund and support research and innovation. In particular, the ARC Linkage grant provides the opportunity for academic researchers to partner with relevant industry players in their field of expertise to co-fund a project with the ARC.  The grant requires a commitment in both cash and in-kind contribution from the industry partner with matching cash contribution by the ARC. In 2011, Sigma-Aldrich partnered with Science Next Collaborative (SNC) Think Tank Ambassador and Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute’s (Monash University) Professor Peter Currie, who was awarded an ARC linkage grant to study the development and regeneration of skeletal muscle in the context of diseases such as muscular dystrophy, using zebrafish as the animal model. What Sigma-Aldrich brought to the table, at the time, was the latest in cutting-edge genome editing technology: the CompoZr® Zinc Finger Nucleases, enabling Prof Currie’s group to knockout over 40 key genes implicated in skeletal muscle development and investigate mechanisms of action. Through the exclusive license held by Sigma-Aldrich on the CompoZr® ZFNs, we negotiated the right to license and commercialise any project IP that may result from the study. This is a win-win for both parties, as the IP would be owned by Prof Currie and Monash University, and Sigma-Aldrich is granted the option to commercially explore the asset. In wanting to partner with industry, it is critical for academics to find out the commercial objectives of the industry partner and whether this complements their research strengths and expertise. For example, if you are a laboratory with a particular interest in drug discovery and early-stage drug development and optimisation, then this is more likely to appeal to companies that play in that space or have the capabilities to further develop the compound along the drug development pipeline. The funding for ARC linkage may include FTE allocation and potential time spent in the corresponding company’s R&D facilities, this is invaluable for an EMCR in getting industry exposure and picking up extra skill-sets along the way. It is equally important to find out the selection criteria and corresponding weights for ARC Linkage projects as they may change each year. The grants are open usually between August to November, and more information can be found on the ARC website. Please feel free to contact the SNC team if you wish to further discuss ideas or partnership opportunities.

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