A.C. Entis-IP was thrilled to host Arundeep S. Pradhan and Ray Wheatley of APIO Innovation Transfer (http://apioix.com/) during their visit to Israel from the U.S. Arun and Ray led a roundtable discussion on November 7, 2019, at our Tel Aviv office on the challenges and best practices for commercializing health-tech and med-tech. APIOix is a consultancy composed of senior industry veterans and experts that work extensively with technology transfer offices, accelerators/incubators, government agencies, and startup and small companies to provide training and strategic advice relating to issues of technology transfer and commercialization.

About the discussion leaders:

Arundeep Pradhan (President, Co-Founder of APIOix) has been a member of the Association of University Technology Managers since 1988, and was elected as the president of the AUTM in 2009 and the AUTM Foundation in 2010. He served on the AUTM Board of Trustees 2006 to 2010, and has served on the boards of many startups.

Ray Wheatley (Director at APIOix) is former Director for Technology Commercialization in the Office for Technology Development at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Together with his team, his efforts resulted in more than 900 negotiated option agreements, license agreements and intellectual property management agreements, generating more than $178 million in license revenues.

We thank Arun and Ray, as well as our outside guest participants, for the lively discussion and valuable insights.

Selected insights from the roundtable:

  • In the US, grants from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program provide an invaluable source of non-dilutive funding, and should be among the first funding sources to pursue for eligible startups to support early-stage actions such as the filing of provisional patent applications and initial proof-of-concept (POC) studies.
  • Similar non-dilutive grants exist in Israel as well, for example through the Israel Innovation Authority.
  • Don't over-focus on the technology when pitching to potential investors and/or partners  – first get them excited about the proposed product that the technology will make possible and the problems that this product will solve. Once there is buy-in, attention for important but "boring" details like the underlying technology and terms for investments and collaboration agreements will naturally follow.
  • Some but not all technologists can transition into business leadership roles. Coaching, advising, and encouragement helps with this transition, but a successful transition ultimately depends on the personality and interest of the technologist. If a successful transition is not likely, matching them with a non-technical co-founder or CEO is a good way to help.
  • University TTOs are very sensitive about leak of IP from the institutions they serve, and will resent entrepreneurs and investors who go behind their backs (or lead faculty members and researchers to do the same).
  • On the other hand, TTOs are perpetually over-burdened and under-staffed, and typically lack sufficient resources to engage in proactive technology harvesting even while acknowledging its importance. Conducting scouting activities in a way that helps relieve this pain-point while also keeping the TTOs in the loop can be a great way to make them into allies who will help rather than hinder your search for relevant university tech.