Best Practices

The industry response to COVID-19: what’s the state of play one year on?

Ruth Kirk

Ruth Kirk

Content and Communications Officer – IN-PART, Sheffield.

When the pandemic began, companies across multiple sectors had to change both their ways of working and their focus in order to support efforts to manage and mitigate COVID-19. One year on, we hosted a live Q&A panel webinar with three industry R&D professionals to talk about the changes they’ve experienced in technology transfer over the course of the pandemic.

Introducing our panellists…

Alex Moloney (Product Specialist, Tocris Bioscience) – Alex is responsible for bringing reagents and tools for research to market, working closely with academic institutes around the world.

Raymond Chan (Product Manager, Bio-Techne) – Ray manages a broad portfolio of tools for antibody-based research, diagnostic and therapeutic applications and has been part of Bio-Techne’s global COVID-19 product management response team to support researchers.

Michel de Baar (Executive Director (BD&L Europe), Merck MSD) – Michel has experience in all steps of business development and transaction processes, and the goal for his Global Business Development & Licensing team is to augment MSD’s pipeline.

 

industry response to covid-19 - IN-PART webinar - figure 1

What was the initial industry response to covid-19?

For many around the world, the pandemic drove a change in the way that industry R&D functioned. Like many of us, our panellists began working from home, and companies took steps to protect life science manufacturing and their workers from COVID-19 whilst still maintaining normal levels of production and supply.

In addition, companies have created internal teams to address the research and innovation challenges presented by the pandemic. This has included assembling core business development groups to evaluate potential technologies for collaboration and commercialisation, as well as webinars and meetings with other other companies and academics to inform research and corporate approaches. Supporting the efforts to mitigate COVID-19 and develop successful interventions has been a priority for industry from the outset, including redesigning existing research and diagnostic tools for use within clinical settings.

How did R&D priorities change?

Initially, companies had a more reactive response to the pandemic. For our panellists, this primarily revolved around repurposing existing research and interventions (such as previous research into SARS) and assessing its applicability to COVID-19. Providing tools to both researchers and clinical settings, and mapping the human-virus interactions was a priority. As little was known about the disease during the first few months, learning and understanding was key to developing future interventions.

The need for speed – getting research to market

COVID-19 has certainly driven a change in the way that universities and industry approach collaboration and commercialisation, as well as pushing it further into the public eye. For our panellists, the key changes have revolved around the speed of conversations. A reduced 3-5 day assessment time for Covid-related research proposals has been established within MSD, and all of our panellists are very keen for universities to continue to reach out with relevant research.

Fast-tracking the paperwork process, whilst being hard work, has meant technologies can be more rapidly brought to market, and there are alternative collaboration models with potential for free access to be considered. Our panellists have also made use of preprints to identify and access potential research in its early stages.

What are the priorities for COVID-19 R&D looking ahead?

After the initial reactive response to a new global disease, we are now learning more about the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Companies are beginning to look to the future, identifying gaps in their infectious disease pipelines and looking at how we can streamline vaccinations and address future changes to the virus, as well as being prepared for future pandemics.

Our panellists commented that whilst the intensity of their response is reducing, they still operate multiple channels for COVID-19 submissions and rapid review processes. The question remains as to whether the pivoting, reactive change in R&D priorities that drove the development of successful interventions and vaccines supporting our return to ‘normal’ could be a variable response for future challenges.

Access the full recording of the webinar:




 


Written by Ruth Kirk. Edited by Alex Stockham.

Copyrights reserved unless otherwise agreed – IN-PART Publishing Ltd., 2021: ‘The industry response to COVID-19: what’s the state of play one year on?’


About IN-PART:

We believe brilliant connections can solve real-world problems. We match research pioneers from academia with decision-makers in industry sectors striving for a greater positive impact.

Our goal is to enable connections from around the world to match academic research with industry on a level playing field. Through our intelligent, matchmaking platform we showcase leading university innovations and connect academics with an international community of decision-makers in industry, creating meaningful dialogue and partnership.

 

IN-PART, a digital partnering platform for university-industry collaboration.

250+ universities and research institutes around the world currently showcase their research and innovation on IN-PART to find new collaboration partners in industry. R&D teams get free access to the platform (create an account here). There are no hidden costs and we don’t claim downstream success fees.

Discover, a bespoke scouting service for open innovation.

Through Discover, corporate R&D teams can leverage our extended academic network, which reaches multiple teams across 1,200+ universities and research institutes worldwide. In response to a specific research requirement or challenge, Discover enables R&D teams to identify new opportunities for commercialisation or to solicit proposals for new research.

Interested in speaking with our Discover team? Request a demo |  TTO or academic? Sign-up for weekly Discover emails.

IN-PART Blog - industry response to covid-19 - Header image

Image credit: Free Birds / Unsplash Licence

Insights View all

Insights into innovation, expertise, and technology developed by university researchers searching for industry partners through IN-PART