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Cross-pond collaboration
December 2009
by Lloyd Dunlap  |  Email the author


CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The three largest biotech trade groups in the U.K. have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Massachusetts Biotech Council (MassBio) to cooperatively encourage and promote collaborations, partnerships and investments between the two regions.
"If we as leading cluster groups can't be innovative in harboring innovation then we're letting down our member companies," notes Tony Jones, director of the London Biotechnology Network. "This agreement will foster sharing ideas and best practices and getting to the end of the drug discovery and development pipeline as quickly as possible."
Tony Jones' London Biotechnology Network is one of three U.K. groups that form the Golden Triangle Partnership (GTP) that signed the MOU with MassBio. The others are the Oxford Bioscience Network (OBN) and ERBI, which is a self-financing, non-governmental, membership-based company serving the life sciences and healthcare communities in Cambridge, the east of England and elsewhere.
"The Golden Triangle Partnership serves several thousand companies in the U.K. by providing members a networking platform that brings the life sciences community together to support partnering and collaboration in the industry," Jones says.
The MOU outlines the organizations' commitment to facilitate cross-ocean investment and partnering by encouraging collaborations between each group's member companies. Additionally, GTP and MassBio will promote each other's investment and partnering events to their respective members, as well as offer their members reduced rates to each other's signature events. Exchange of company details, main contacts, pipeline information and licensing goals will be facilitated.
Peter Abair, director of economic development at MassBio, notes that the collaboration is partially a result of the down economy, which has forced small biotechs to expand their networks of potential investors. The MOU is the first his organization has been involved in. It was born out of discussions over the past year focused on how to use the two groups' historic connections to help increase the flow of innovation. The collaboration will be mostly "people to people," he observes, with various events, investor forums and annual meetings both here and in the U.K.
MassBio is a non-profit industry association with a staff of 22 funded by members. As a registered lobbying organization, it receives no state or federal dollars. Founded in 1985, it is the world's oldest biotech association, with 400 biotech members plus another 200 comprising academic institutions, research hospitals and service organizations involved in life sciences and healthcare, as well as lawyers, consultants and other interested parties. Fourteen foreign agencies are also members, including the governments of Canada, Quebec and Ontario; consulates of Greece and Brazil; and Japanese and Scottish development groups. In addition to its educational efforts, MassBio also runs a purchasing consortium.
The U.K. healthcare market is the world's fifth largest pharmaceuticals market and is home to many of the world's leading clinicians, scientists and researchers. They are attracted by a world-class research and development infrastructure and a track record of bringing cutting edge technologies and products to market. Eighteen of the world's current top 100 drugs were discovered and developed in the U.K. All of the world's top ten pharmaceutical companies have a significant presence in the U.K. and it is second to the U.S. as the world's key life science and healthcare investment destination, attracting 26 percent of all pharmaceutical research and development investment in Europe.  
Code: E120908



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