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i&i Prague: A new platform for commercialization of Czech research results

27 December 2017
i&i Prague: A new platform for commercialization of Czech research results

The Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Science (IOCB Prague) has established a new company – i&i Prague. This new platform now exists to support the commercialization of Czech research results, to help academic institutions and universities all over the Czech Republic identify and protect results and inventions that have the greatest commercial potential, and to help them find a commercial partner.

i&i Prague follows the international standard set by a number of foreign companies established in prestigious institutions such as Max Planck Innovation in Germany, Imperial College London, Australian Uniquest, and Cambridge Enterprise in the UK.

It is no coincidence the new company was established at IOCB Prague, one of the world’s most successful institutions not only in basic research but also in the application of research results. IOCB Prague has extensive experience with technology transfer, and relies on a network of international contacts.

“By establishing i&i Prague, we are trying to give back to society as much as we are getting from it,” says Professor Martin Fusek, one of the founders of i&i Prague and the CEO of IOCB TTO, the parent company. According to him, research institutions throughout the country will benefit from this new platform. “The foundation of i&i Prague is in response to a large number of requests for consulting and assistance with projects from other Czech institutes and universities. Also, there is an increasing interest from Czech and foreign companies in discoveries and innovations from the Czech Republic.”

The parent company IOCB TTO was founded in 2009 by Prof. Fusek and the director of IOCB Prague at that time, Dr. Zdeněk Havlas. It is a subsidiary company 100% owned by IOCB Prague. Its sole purpose is to support the long-lasting financial prosperity of IOCB Prague. Thanks to the work of Prof. Fusek and his team and the current director of IOCB Prague, Dr. Zdeněk Hostomský, IOCB TTO has managed to conclude a new contract with the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences that will significantly contribute to commercial financing of the research at IOCB Prague. Furthermore, IOCB TTO signed a number of new licensing agreements ensuring IOCB Prague’s financial prosperity for years to come, including a license with Novo Nordisk for the use of a synthetic hormone, which may be a turning point in the treatment of obesity and diabetes.

“We were looking for a way to offer experience and contacts gained at IOCB TTO to scientists from all over the Czech Republic,” says Jaromír Zahrádka, CEO of i&i Prague, who has been involved in the development of IOCB TTO for the past 5 years. “The foundation of this subsidiary enables us to provide this to our colleagues outside of IOCB Prague, to help them develop other successful projects, and to guide them to a successful exit. In addition to consulting and technical assistance in finding a commercial potential of their discoveries, we are ready to cover some part of the financial costs necessary to start a spin-off company or to file a patent application,” adds Dr. Zahrádka.

The number of commercially interesting research results as well as technology transfer expertise has improved over recent years in all the institutes of the Czech Academy of Science. There is also a great deal of support for cooperation between scientists and companies, whether within the projects of Technology Agency of Czech Republic or within Czech Academy of Science.

“Unfortunately, the Czech Republic is not on the radar for international companies looking for new discoveries and innovations. To change this, it is necessary to build a network of contacts to support the development of technology transfer and cutting-edge fundamental research which is essential for revolutionary discoveries. I believe that the foundation of i&i Prague will be another important step towards achieving this goal,” adds Martin Fusek.

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