The Academic Innovation Ecosystem

Posted on: Saturday, 24 September 2016 at 9:59:29 PM

The Academic Innovation Ecosystem

Article from the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce-AICC(WA)’s CISCO Technology Series Sundowner held in conjunction with the Australian Friends of Hebrew University, on Wednesday 21 September 2016 and hosted at UWA-The University of Western Australia, Perth.

 

Yissum is the world renowned research development company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. President and CEO of Yissum, Mr Yaacov Michlin visited Australia to foster business relations and collaboration between Israel and Australia. He spoke not only of the commercial accomplishments of Yissum, but also of the structures associated with its operations and its ability to build a start-up ecosystem within the Hebrew University. Positioned within the University, and for the benefit of the University, the novel Yissum approach towards academic commercialisation has been a remarkable success story.

Mr Yaacov Michlin, President and CEO, Yissum Research Development Company of  the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel and The Honourable Bill Marmion MLA, Minister for State Development; Finance; Innovation, Government of Western Australia

 

The Honourable Bill Marmion MLA, Minister for State Development; Finance; Innovation, Government of Western Australia

The keynote speaker was preceded by an address from the Hon Bill Marmion, MLA, Minister for State Development; Finance; Innovation. Mr Marmion affirmed Government support at both a federal and state level for an innovation culture which he remarked “should be built into the way we work across all industry”.

Citing examples including the WA Innovation Strategy development supported by the $20m innovation package and the Start IT UP WA Challenge, Mr Marmion reinforced the Government’s commitment to boost innovation in the WA economy and secure WA’s reputation as a great place to live and a great place to innovate.

Mr Marmion noted that as new industries and sources of economic growth matured, and the proportional impact of the resources sector on the WA economy would continue to diminish, a smarter pathway through innovation was needed. He drew on the example of Israel, particularly noting that failure is often used as a learning foundation, and that Israel’s transformation from agricultural and manufacturing economy to a hi-tech economy contained many parallels and lessons for Western Australia. Citing the income per capita that was reinvested into research and development, Mr Marmion noted that in Israel the figure is $120 and in Australia it is $4.50. In the UK it stands at $15 and in South Korea $20.

The Minister concluded by noting that WA is open for business and a gateway to new opportunities.   WA hosts one of 8 Internet Of Things (IOT) innovation centres in the world, and a number of industry research centres. The State has an extraordinary capacity for innovation, the opportunity to further collaborate with Israel, and momentum that is continually building. Mr Marmion said that “there has never been a better time to innovate in Western Australia.”

Dr Campbell Thomson, Director, Office of Research Enterprise, The University of Western Australia 

Mr Yaacov Michlin set the scene for his presentation by drawing on the drivers that led to the establishment of Yissum in 1964, being a need for economic diversification, an absence of natural resources, and funding shortages to monetise academic research. Yissum is the business that markets the inventions and know-how generated by the Hebrew University’s staff and students, and is now ranked amongst the top 15 technology transfer companies in the world (revenue based ranking).

Today, Yissum has registered over 9,300 patents covering 2,600 inventions. The company has licensed more than 880 technologies and has spun-off 110 companies including Mobileye, Collplant, Qlight, and Briefcam. Products that are based on Hebrew University technologies and were commercialised by Yissum now generate over $US 2 Billion in annual sales. Key examples include drug products such as Exelon (for Alzheimer’s treatment) and Doxil (for cancer treatment), and agricultural products such as cherry tomatoes.

Mr Michlin noted the key accomplishments of Israel’s economic transformation including;

  • That 40% of Israeli export receipts now come from High-Tech exports
  • That Israel has the highest count of High-Tech engineers per capita in the world, and still confronts a skills shortage.
  • The life-sciences industry, inclusive of biotech, pharmaceuticals, and digital healthcare has more than trebled in size over the past decade
  • Over $US 14 million has been invested by industry companies in scientific research collaborations at the Hebrew University alone in 2014, one of 7 Universities in Israel.
  • On average Yissum files 110 patents per year, licenses out 50-60 technologies and spins off ~13 strat ups per year.

From L to R - Mr John Cluer, Chief Executive, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA), Mr Stuart Silbert OAM, Board Member, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA), Mr Adam Georgiu, Lead Public Sector Lead Account Manager, Cisco Systems Australia Pty Ltd, Mr Yaacov Michlin, President and CEO, Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, Dr Campbell Thomson, Director, Office of Research Enterprise, The University of Western Australia and Professor Peter Leedman MBBS, PhD, FRACP, FAHMS, Director, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research

From L to R - Mr Stuart Silbert OAM, Board Member, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA), and Mr Yaacov Michlin, President and CEO, Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Professor Peter Leedman MBBS, PhD, FRACP, FAHMS, Director, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research

 

Further discussing the model under which Yissum operates, Mr Michlin explained that Yissum is the exclusive owner of the Intellectual Property of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Being a technology transfer company was not enough to guarantee Yissum’s success. It is an “ecosystem of opportunities” that centres on research collaboration and technology licensing that sits at the core of what Mr Michlin described as a “Start-Up Nation model at an institutional level”. The added components include internal venture capital activity , internal seed funds, start-up revenue stream, technology incubators, and Government investment programs. . Yissum has also developed dedicated funds including holding company for biotechnology start ups (Integra Holdings), with further models evolving for agritech (agrinnovation fund) and a science Fund that will invest in nano and computer science.

He further asserted that Yissum doesn’t just fund, but facilitates business planning, market testing, product development and all other elements of commercialisation as an active participant. With various models at work, Yissum invests in innovation inclusive of technology licensing, research collaboration, pre-accelerator diligence, company registration, and a variety of investment channels. Some of the research facilities of the Hebrew University include a 3D and Functional Printing centre, a cybersecurity research centre, the Azrieli Center for Stem Cells & Genetic Research and the Alexander Grass Centre for bioengineering and currently a huge brain research centre is being built. Yissum has also opened an office in China to increase iits marketing there.

Mr Michlin concluded his address by citing Australian involvement with Yissum including the funding medical cannabis research via PhytoTech Medical (ASX: PYL) and key private investment from Australia into their new Arginnovation Fund and called for more collaborations with local universities and start up and for continuous flow of investment from Australia into Yissum special investment vehicles and start ups. Reflecting on his 9 day tour of 5 Australian cities, Mr Michlin praised the high performance of students and academics in Australia and further reinforced the value of Australian collaboration with Yissum and more generally with Israel as the Start-Up Nation.

Mr Yaacov Michlin, President and CEO, Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

WA Chief Scientist Professor Peter Klinken facilitated discussion and dialogue following Mr Michlin’s presentation. Noting that Yissum had evolved “before academic commercialisation became popular” Professor Klinken sought Mr Michlin’s views on the attitudinal and cultural elements of Yissum’s journey to success. Mr Michlin responded that academic success in Hebrew University has shifted from being measured only on the number of academic papers produced to include also the number of patents produced. There is a drive from within the academic sector, and as a result innovators are not forced to choose between an academic career or entrepreneurship.

  

Mr Yaacov Michlin, President and CEO, Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel and Professor Peter Klinken , Chief Scientist, Office of Science, Government of Western Australia

 

Other issues raised through questioning related to the diligence associated with exiting, closing or discontinuing a trial. Mr Michlin noted that failure can result from bad business execution, not necessarily because the product idea is bad. He discussed the skills associated with proposal evaluation and the rigorous internal and external scrutiny applied to test out ideas. He noted that Yissum have 26 staff members in their patent business development legal department to further mitigate risk.

Mr Adam Georgiu, Lead Public Sector Lead Account Manager, Cisco Systems Australia Pty Ltd

A vote of thanks was proposed by Mr Adam Georgiu, Lead Public Sector Account Manager at Cisco. He noted the presentation had brought home the high impact of technology innovation and how the significant change to business models will continue to disrupt markets. Cisco has committed extensively to a strategic project in Israel to advance Government digitalisation. The importance of this engagement is reflected by the global contribution of Cisco to research and development of technology innovation.

 

The AICC(WA) acknowledges its event sponsors, without whom Technology Series presentations could not occur. The support of Technology Series sponsor, Cisco, hosts UWA, event sponsors Vistone and Konico Minolta, and event partners the Australian Friends of Hebrew University is greatly valued.

About Yaacov Michlin 

Yaacov Michlin has served as Yissum’s President and Chief Executive Officer since 2009, during which time he has led more than 250 licensing deals and the creation of more than 60 startup companies. Mr. Michlin also led Yissum to the signing of long term collaborations with Roche, Coca Cola and other multinational companies. He also led the creation and capital raising of Yissum’s new holding company Integra, that acts as a VC to fund biotech projects of the Hebrew University. Currently, Mr. Michlin serves as Chairman and board member of some of Yissum’s leading spin-off companies in the biotech, agriculture and materials fields. He has also served over the past three years as Co-Chairman of the Israeli Tech Transfer Organization. Before joining Yissum, Yaacov Michlin was involved in consulting to pharmaceutical, hi-tech and biomedical companies (including Teva, Bioline, CBI and Brainsway) in various technology commercialization deals, licensing agreements, capital raising, mergers and acquisitions and joint venture collaborations. Mr. Michlin holds a Bachelor of Law and Economics, cum laude, and a Master of Law degree, both from Bar-Ilan University, Israel, and a MBA, cum laude, from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology.

Back to Search Results