Thursday, 30 Aug 2012
Breathing new life
ICT Biosciences is the business function of the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics at the University of Bradford. Commercial in nature, ICT Biosciences uses the expertise of scientists based in the Institute to provide services including preclinical and clinical cancer drug discovery and development to a range of organisations both in the UK and international markets. Until a few years ago, the United States was the only export focus for the company. Travelling to the US twice a year for a major cancer conference however was very costly and the returns just not worth it. For these reasons, Business Manager Stuart Nelson explains, they decided to look much closer to home in Europe where there would potentially be less risk and cost.
One of the UKTI’s International Trade Adviser’s Alastair Gardner who specialises in biotechnology was already working with other university departments, and so Stuart decided to get in touch to find out about the Passport to Export Programme for new exporters. ICT Biosciences were facing a number of challenges including deciding where in Europe to focus on, language barriers (a problem not faced before in the US) and also new laws about the tax credits system for scientific research.
UKTI’s market research support helped to select France, Germany, the Nordics and Spain as key target markets back in October 2009 and as a result, the Overseas Market Introduction Service was used in those markets to identify and attend a series of partnering events including pre-arranged one to one meetings. Comparing this approach with that of their efforts in the US, Stuart much prefers this method as it did not rely on people to come to them but was much more pro-active and focussed.
Out of all the selected countries, France has been the most successful due to two major events: The European Cancer Cluster Partnering Event in Toulouse, September 2009 and the UKTI Franco British Exchange in Oncology Event in Lyon, March 2010. These events combined have led to 4 separate proposals being made and contracts worth in excess of £30,000; not to mention the numerous contacts made at both events. The initial contracts have also led to repeated work for the Institute more recently.
As a direct result of the events in France, ICT Biosciences have been conducting a pre-clinical evaluation of a novel cancer drug to assess if it reduces tumour burden.
For a small biotech company they have also been carrying out in-vitro efficacy testing of new cancer compounds.
Company: ICT Biosciences
Of the Passport to Export Service and associated support Stuart received for ICT Biosciences, the timing is one thing which really stands out. From joining Passport to Export in September 2009, seven different events across Europe were attended and within two months an Export Communications Review and Market Research were carried out. This very quick timing ensured that momentum was not lost, and is testament to the fact UKTI will make sure companies will not miss out on opportunities, as the European Cancer Cluster Partnering Event was in the same month that Stuart joined Passport to Export!
“On the whole OMIS produces an awful lot of valuable information which can potentially be very useful to get a foot in the door”.
One of the major benefits of liking up with UKTI is gaining access to their varied resources. ICT Biosciences attended at least two ‘Meet the Commercial Team’ events where local experts from various markets were brought together with the opportunity of one-to-one meetings to discuss the potential of those markets. Another plus is having the opportunity to participate in UKTI arranged trade missions and events, such as the Franco-British Exchange in Oncology Event they attended in Lyon. Of this event, Stuart said, “It was a well organised and well run event which brought like-minded people together to discuss specific collaboration opportunities”.
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