This year’s Technology Showcase, held on 13 June at Oxford’s Saïd Business School, attracted a host of leading academics, clinicians and investors to discuss the most exciting commercial opportunities and projects in the field of Therapeutics, Small Molecules and Biologics.
The event, which was attended by around 200 people, was organised by the NIHR Oxford BRC, the Oxford Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and Oxford University Innovation.
Among the themes discussed were small molecule discovery, vaccines, experimental medicine and novel modalities.
“Oxford is a real hub for medical innovation, and that makes it the perfect location for this kind of event,” said Dr Vasiliki Kiparoglou, the Oxford BRC’s Head of Clinical Research Operations.
“It was exciting to see a broad range of people from academia, the clinical world and industry coming together to look at how we commercialise the amazing breakthroughs being developed here in the field of small molecules and therapeutics.”
Dr Nick Scott-Ram, Director of Commercial Development at the Oxford AHSN, said: “There’s a rich seam of innovation in the Oxford ecosystem, particularly in this area of therapeutics and biologics. The purpose of this event is to bring together academics, industry and investors to showcase the research and development work that’s going on in the Oxford area and to provide opportunities for people to get together and hopefully build new partnerships and alliances and further the drug discovery and development process.
“The aim is to enable earlier-stage partnerships to form so that people can work on specific problems and develop new therapies for unmet patient need. By bringing everybody together in an environment like this, different people who wouldn’t normally meet up can engage and explore whether there are opportunities to work together.”
Adam Stoten, Oxford University Innovation’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “The ecosystem around healthcare and drug discovery is increasingly vibrant and active, and we find that bringing together those stakeholders often results in new collaborations, new ideas, which may in some circumstances lead to future therapeutic projects.”
High-profile speakers included representatives from industry, both small spin-outs and start-ups, and large multinational pharmaceuticals companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.
Prof John Isaac, Senior Director for Neuroscience External Innovation at Johnson & Johnson Innovation, commented: “The academics have great ideas, they do great science, they have a great understanding of disease mechanisms. What industry brings is the need to translate that to new medicines. That’s a set of complementary skills – we help the academics translate their great ideas into new medicines, and we get access to great science.”
Several Oxford BRC theme leads and co-theme leads spoke at the conference, including Profs Adrian Hill and Andrew Pollard from the Vaccines Theme, Prof Mark Middleton Co-theme Lead for Cancer, and Prof Robert McLaren, Theme Lead for Surgical Innovation.
Prof MacLaren said: “To benefit patients, we need to develop new and more effective treatments. In the university we can develop ideas and concepts, and perform experiments; we need the NHS research team to start clinical trials, and finally to get an approved treatment we need the industry sponsors, the commercial entities that come in, understand the regulations, launch a phase 3 clinical trial and then develop a new treatment.
“Without the ability to do clinical trials in patients, we cannot test the ideas, and without the funding from the commercial entities, we cannot take a good result from a clinical trial into developing an approved treatment. We really need all three to get the success we want.”
Topics discussed ranged from the challenges and opportunities of multinationals collaborating with academia to different approaches to drug discovery; from vaccines to experimental medicine in fields as diverse as oncology and respiratory medicine.
See the full list of speakers here.