The MICOBION project delegation visited EMBLEM
Projects — 05.10.2022


The MICOBION project delegation visited EMBLEM

At the end of September, three Charles University representatives visited their counterparts in the technology transfer (TT) office of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) EMBLEM in Heidelberg.

“EMBLEM GmbH is a company that is responsible for technology transfer of new inventions and discoveries of scientists working in any of the EMBL laboratories seated in Hinxton (UK), Grenoble (France), Hamburg and Heidelberg (Germany), Rome (Italy), and Barcelona (Spain),” says Jana Žaludová, the chief development officer at Charles University Innovations Prague, a.s. (CUIP) who attended the meeting. Other attendees were innovation scouts at the Faculty of Science, Jana Pilátová and Ondřej Vaněk, helping to communicate the requirements of TT with scientists in biological and chemical disciplines. They were asking the management of EMBLEM about their experiences and good practices in TT. Like other similar companies, including the CUIP, it has two divisions – the intellectual property (IP) management unit and business development unit – that must cooperate tightly in the commercialization process.

The managing director, Gábor Lamm, is a straightforward businessman who does not like to waste time, told us: “We always ask ourselves two crucial questions to work effectively and responsibly. First, would our actions make the technology available worldwide? Second, how can we help get the technology to the market as soon as possible?”. Thorsten Schneider, an IP manager, adds: “What appeared non-functioning is involving only one project manager per innovation; there must be both IP management and business development involved.” with a quick addition by the director: “When communicating with scientists, we always leave the responsibility on the scientists; they are building their business plan themselves – with our advice and suggestions, yes, but we need to make sure about their motivation,” stressed out Gábor Lamm.

Jürgen Bauer, the deputy managing director and business development specialist, told us about the spin-off companies EMBLEM established over the last 20 years. Out of 26 spin-off companies, he stressed the success story of their exited spin-off company that got the new imaging technology of light-sheet microscopy into the market – first licensing the rights of intellectual property to Zeiss, then upgrading the system, starting a spin-off company Luxendo in 2015 and then successfully joining forces with Bruker, which acquired Luxendo in 2017.

Jana Pilátová was sincerely surprised by all the interactive meetings EMBLEM organizes to engage the scientists in the transfer. “Sure, our Centre for Knowledge and Technology Transfer organizes the courses for all degrees of students and employees, but there is always so much more to try out. In EMBLEM, they have an Industry Club, EMBL Science Days, or science-to-business meetings; they organize competitions and offer innovation prizes for the best projects, and connect with the companies as well as with their scientists as much as possible. They build their reputation, and their 20-year-old experience, tight bonds, and innovation environment they actively nurture are impressive.” Ondřej Vaněk finishes with the last point we discussed: “Another direction of future possible improvement concerns attracting alumni and/or business angels to our university, being a standard in the western countries that could also help at Charles University.”