Imperial venture in India

November 23, 2007

Imperial Innovations, the company founded by Imperial College London to exploit its academics' inventions, is setting up an associate company in India to commercialise the products of Indian research, writes Melanie Newman. In a move that reflects India's rapidly increasing global influence, the company is investing £100,000 in i2india IPR, which will develop intellectual property arising from Indian research institutes, universities, research organisations and corporations.

Susan Searle, chief executive of Imperial Innovations, who has been appointed a director of i2india, said: "India has many world-class institutions, and scientific publications from Indian organisations are becoming increasingly influential outside India."

She added that the country was an important market for the technologies that are presently being developed by Imperial Innovations.

"There is a huge and growing demand for renewable energy technologies, for example," she said.

Ms Searle noted that the new associate company would complement the relationships with Indian industry that have already been built by Imperial College professor of infectious diseases Sunil Shaunak.

Professor Shaunak has modified the structure of an existing hepatitis C drug.

His spin-off company, PolyTherics, has patented the modified drug and contracted an Indian company, Shanta Biotechnics, to conduct clinical trials and oversee production and sales.

The Indian investment follows a successful year for Imperial Innovations, which is the only publicly quoted company to come from a university technology transfer base.

Unlike other universities' tech-transfer vehicles, Imperial Innovations also "incubates" start-up companies and acts as an early-stage venture capital investor.

The group, in which Imperial College London has a 53 per cent share, raised £30 million from a share placement in October.

Its annual report, released this month, reveals that as of July 31, Imperial Innovations had shares in 74 spin-off companies valued at £55.8 million, up from £33.5 million in 2006.

- The University of Delhi has become the first Indian institution to join the Universitas 21 network for international education.

The university joined the group this week, boosting the network's geographic spread to 13 countries.

Michael Clarke, vice-principal of Birmingham University, one of the four UK members of U21, hailed the University of Delhi's arrival as a "great" addition to the collaborative group.

Professor Clarke said: "This (addition) will give rise to opportunities to extend our research collaborations, to open new possibilities for student exchange and give us all an alternative view on activities around the network."

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