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Berlin to go, english edition 2/2015

  • Text
  • Berlin
  • Healthcare
  • Innovative
  • Scientific
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Germany

SERVICE TWO WORLDS, ONE

SERVICE TWO WORLDS, ONE GOAL: INNOVATIONS INTO THE MARKET How can the transfer of technology be successful on a long-term basis? This question clearly motivates Dr. Andreas Eckert, chairman of the executive board of Eckert & Ziegler AG In the Berlin region, the potentials that result from the dense scientific landscape are frequently invoked. Berlin to go chatted with the chairman of the executive board of Eckert & Ziegler AG and venture capitalist, Dr. Andreas Eckert, who – as an experienced entrepreneur and enterprise founder many times over – takes a look at the current situation and the possibilities afforded by the local scene. Dr. Eckert, how do you assess the potentials of the transfer of technology, and how successful are cooperations of research and industry in reality? Dr. Andreas Eckert (AE): It‘s not possible to paint the various academic fields with one brush, it functions different from area to area. For the qualified artist at the Berlin University of the Arts the situation is entirely different to that of natural scientists, and even here there are differences between one subject and another. In life sciences for example, the transfer of technology essentially takes place only via patents. The costs of clinical trials and approvals are too high for one to even start developing medication without ensuring protection against copycats. If it can‘t be patented, it won‘t be developed. Thousands of ingenious ideas therefore go undeveloped in the archives. Despite this, the pharmaceutical industry is interested in Berlin‘s science community? AE: The industry is not really interested in where discoveries come from. Even medium-sized pharmaceutical groups are internationally active today, and can utilise patents from American and Asian researchers in equal measure to those that originate from universities and institutes in Berlin. These are presently suffering from the fact that far fewer of their discoveries are leading to medicines than satisfies their own expectations and would correlate to the number of scientists they employ. This is usually an organisational problem. A well-organised, streamlined transfer of technology, which also creates the right incentives within the organisation, is a rarity. In your opinion, what is the cause of this discrepancy between theory and practice, if we consider the transfer of technology to be a model? AE: The majority of life science researchers are based at the university hospitals. For their boards and managers, the primary focus is on safeguarding medical care, after which comes the battle for the investment budget with the indigent land, then the publicity research upon which their careers depend, and possibly education and training. After all this, very little energy remains for the transfer of technology, especially since neither industry nor venture capital investors are standing in line. A laborious business. With extra-university research the initial situation is more favourable, although the outcome is photo: Hermann Bredehorst 22 BERLIN TO GO

SERVICE similar. Many are content with performing publicity research. They scarcely tap into the potential actually available here with realisation. Commonly, groups of worthy people of a certain status form, whose scientific lyricism is read by other poets with appreciation, but who make no further discernible or attributable contribution to the improvement of medical care. Has Berlin therefore taken just the right step with the establishment of the Berlin Institute of Health? AE: Absolutely. A clear mandate for applied research only, referred to in industry jargon as “translation”, with EUR 300 million in additional funding from the federal government during the first stage, plus a board with its own administrative staff. An excellent model. Until recently the combat mission merely consisted of “interdisciplinary cooperation”, but the selection committee has now succeeded in gaining an interesting management personality. We are delighted to welcome Mr Böttinger, and hope that he will be able to utilise his unique institutional position to bring additional stimuli to the Charité and the Max Delbrück Center. One can achieve a lot with EUR 80 million per year, and bring praxis to the university. However, let‘s take a look beyond the capital city‘s region – where could bonds be formed for a successful transfer of technology? AE: One could certainly mention the USA here, although Israel and Switzerland also seem to work well. The grounds are multifaceted. One thing that does stand out for example, is that non-acceptance based on social standing is less prevalent in other countries. In America, a non-scientific businessman can head up a university or institute if he has proven himself to be an assertive and successful administrator. Here in Germany, it is common for positions to be filled only in accordance with social status, whereby it is essential to present just the right number of education certificates depending on the post. In life sciences for example, highly responsible research positions are almost always unattainable without medical specialist certification. Anyone below the age of 40 is simply not viable. You wish to inspire others to participate in the transfer of technology? AE: I certainly wish to promote an increase in academic competition and free up the path for young talent and career changers. For me, diversity of social status appears even more important than diversity of gender and ethnicity. It would be conceivable to utilise the junior professorships as an instrument for social reform. The Berlin Higher Education Act provides an opportunity here. If the selection committees were to make their decisions without considering formal pre-qualifications then we would discover more gems than we imagine. How do you sum up the successful transfer of technology? AE: It must be desired and it must be organised. For better outcomes it is essential to level the path for young people and career changers. Thank you for talking to us. Interview Ines Hein About Dr. Andreas Eckert Chairman of the Executive Board of Eckert & Ziegler Strahlenund Medizintechnik AG, founder of several companies in the manufacturing health care sector, venture capital investor and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Berlin Partner for Business and Technology. Advertisement We print 100 % carbon neutral As a modern printing centre, we at LASERLINE take our responsibility to protect the environment very seri ous ly. We are one of the first printing compa nies worldwide to compensate for all the CO2 emissions resulting from our company’s activities – from your order in the online shop to production, from the automatic coffee maker to the recycling press. For more information, see: www.laser-line.de

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