Re-posted from the Cross-Border Biotech Blog
As part of our Biotech Trends series, we’ve been following the increasing commercialization activity shown by non-profits (although they’ve been having as hard a time succeeding as everyone else). Two recent stories highlight the important role foundations are playing in this market environment.
- JDRF Canada – FedDev Ontario Clinical Research Collaboration. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Canada is partnering with the Federal Economic Development Agency of Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to fund a clinical trial network for diabetes research. FedDev Ontario is committing $20 million and JDRF is committing $10 million. JDRF will collaborate with Southern Ontario universities and research institutions to work on:
- Speeding advances in cures and therapies for diabetes and its complications;
- Positioning Southern Ontario as an international hub for translational research; and
- Attracting the best international scientists and institutions to Ontario.
- ALS Foundations-Academia-Industry Project. Three philanthropic organizations (The Angel Fund, The ALS Therapy Alliance and Project ALS) are financing a new collaboration between Dr. Robert Brown and RXi Pharmaceuticals Corporation (NASDAQ: RXII). Dr. Brown will study the use of RXi’s self-delivering rxRNA™ (sd-rxRNA™) compounds as a potential treatment for ALS in a SOD1-overexpressing mouse model.
Each takes a novel approach:
- JDRF Canada, by collaborating directly with the government and by focusing on clinical activity; and
- the ALS project by allowing each party to perform in its specialty — academics on research, corporations on commercialization and the philanthropies on fundraising.
In a stubbornly difficult financing environment, funding sources other than VCs step up because they derive non-financial (or at least indirect financial) benefits from their investments: corporate VCs get access to future partnership prospects; governments stimulate job growth; and charitable foundations are committed to finding cures and treatments. These two projects are perfect examples of the work-arounds that committed participants can produce.
Jeremy Grushcow is a Foreign Legal Consultant practising corporate law at Ogilvy Renault LLP. He has a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology. His practice focuses on life science and technology companies.