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Bio-science and medicine are increasingly dependent on technology, much of which is dreamed up in universities.  But academic researchers do not have the time or resources to refine, develop and market technologies.  Almost all universities now have a commercial liaison function that exists to interface between academic researchers and companies that might want to licence technology for subsequent exploitation.  In Edinburgh this need is met by Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI); they will examine and patent, or otherwise protect, an idea and either liase with interested companies or help and support the inventor in setting up their own University Spin-Out company to take the invention forward. 

An example of such a company is Sutherland Maciverís Amoebics.  Based in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and set up to further research into his novel antibacterial agents, Amoebics is supported by the Quantum Fund and by a succession of Scottish Enterprise awards.  The University normally retains substantial equity in such companies.

It is also possible to set up technology companies without tangible University support, an example of this is Peter Estibeiro and Eleanor Barnardís ExpressOn BioSystems, also based in the Hugh Robson Building.  ExpressOn is developing novel drug discovery technology funded by an investment from the Edinburgh Technology Fund.  The University holds no equity in companies like ExpressOn. 

In this elective we will discuss the setting up of these two example companies and the advantages and disadvantages of University support versus private start-up.  You will discover about marketplace and management, and also learn about intellectual property issues: you might not own your own ideas!  So who does?  And how can they be protected?  And financing: there is enough money circulating in the global economy for every person on Earth to have two million dollars each!  Are there any sure-fire ways of getting more of your fair share?  The elective will be assessed as a sort of a game.  Can you convince the tutors (all of whom have real-world commercial experience) that your idea is worthy of commercialisation?

 

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