Research translation and the role of industry partners

Greg Macpherson
The University of Adelaide

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An important success factor in technology transfer is a good matching of research interests between industry and universities. Where such areas of interest don’t overlap technology transfer can become problematic. In health and medical sciences, too much research languishes with no clear path to market. Research translation has been developed to address the issues of bringing research from ‘bench to bedside.’ Harnessing knowledge from basic science to produce new therapies and better treatments for patients is essential for improved health. Our studies of research translation reveal discrete stages where a knowledge value chain requires a complex range of University Industry Linkages (UILs).
At the University of Adelaide we established a Translational Science Task Force to better understand the role of partners in translation and determine ways to promote a translational mindset within the University.
The objective of this Poster is to illustrate the different parts of the knowledge value chain and opportunities for strategic approaches for industry and community involvement.
To understand the knowledge value chain better, the Translational Science Task Force developed a model of translation. Our model consists of a circular process with 5 components in a feedback system.
• PI, Problem Identification: Identifying knowledge gaps
• KC, Knowledge Creation: fundamental knowledge creation
• KS, Knowledge Synthesis: synthesis of research into products
• I, Implementation: implementation of new technologies with end users
• E, Evaluation: evaluation of technologies in markets, gaps feedback to PI.
The University of Adelaide works in all stages – e.g. inventing new drugs in KC, conducting industry studies, or synthesizing primary research in KS, and helping industry implementation in I. In E the University conducts market assessments of medical products and procedures. Between each part of the model exists a gap which often manifests as a road block in the value chain, and is usually UIL dependent.
The taskforce found that in health and medical sciences the UIL will be complex, involving industry, professionals, service providers, regulators, end users and collaborators. It will also involve different partners at different stages.
The Poster also introduces three research groups at the University which work in different stages of translation and investigates the dynamics of industry linkages along the knowledge value chain. The groups are the Pain and Anaesthesia Research Clinic working in KC and KS bringing new drugs into first-in-human trials; Joanna Briggs Institute working in KS and I conducting synthesis of primary and secondary research through systematic reviews for evidence based health care; and Adelaide Health Technology Assessment in E which conducts in-market assessment of medical products and services for government and health providers.
We have found researchers and partners tend to focus in limited stages of translation. However it is useful to understand the environment across all stages and the ecosystem dynamics along the knowledge value chain. The taskforce found that:-

• Understanding the stages of translation for a particular project will help determine which partners are important for engagement in a strategic way.

• There will often be a range of stakeholders who are necessary partners in the translation, so industry engagement may encompass, for example, business, investors, government, regulators, practitioners, and end users.

• It’s useful to identify gaps between the stages of translation as these will often be where hurdles appear, an example of a gap is transferring from pre-clinical to clinical research which is often an obstacle for industry engagement.

Translation is about bringing knowledge to market; it may or may not involve financial returns for the University, but should offer improvements to quality of life for end users and return on investment for business. Through the taskforce we have raised the profile of translation to become comparable in status to education and research. There is now greater focus on impact and engagement in research projects and increasing involvement of both academics and students.