University-Foundation Relations: From Transactional to Transformative Partnerships

What's the one thing you would change about university-foundation partnerships? That was the opening question at the September 2014 TRAIN (The Research Acceleration and Innovation Network) workshop, where more than 60 stakeholders representing academic research institutions, nonprofit disease foundations, industry, investors, and the legal community, convened in Boston to address university-foundation partnerships.

In recent years, the nonprofit and academic communities have acknowledged that the relationship between nonprofit disease foundations and research institutions is evolving. Although in many ways this evolution presents new and exciting opportunities, these changes have also brought about new conflicts. In its report on the workshop, FasterCures notes that while both patient foundations and research institutions share the goal of translating research into effective therapies for patients, differing views about how to best achieve these goals have negatively impacted these partnerships. Throughout the workshop, participants took the opportunity to articulate their concerns, voice their frustrations, and identify their goals.

The report emphasizes that the workshop represents a “jumping off” point from which specific action items directed at improving university-foundation partnerships can be implemented. To that end, FasterCures has identified five work streams, designed to implement some of the action items proposed at the TRAIN workshop:

  • Develop model provisions.
  • Improve existing resources and develop new resources to enhance the negotiation process.
  • Develop a platform where interested parties can connect to privately share best practices and negotiating tips.
  • Develop content to educate key participants in this field through workshops and/or white papers.
  • Compile data about how frequently and to what extent research funding generates licensable discoveries and consider the implications for intellectual property ownership and negotiation.