The Entrepreneurs in Clinical Academia (ECA) 2017 course took place at the INSEAD campus in Fontainebleau, France, on 16-20 October. This is the 5th year in a row that the course has taken place. ECA is an initiative from FOCIS which offers to a small selected group of academic researchers involved in immunology or inflammatory research in Europe the opportunity to discover more about the drug development process and how to get the most out of their research. The course is delivered by INSEAD, one of the best and largest international business schools whose MBA program is ranked the #1 program in the world by the Financial Times. ECA is a free course. All course expenses are covered by FOCIS, thanks to generous support from Celgene. ECA is a powerful and inspiring course during which participants learn what it takes to move a molecule from the laboratory to the market. At the end of the course they understand the importance of obtaining intellectual property, how to assess its economic value, know what data they must generate to satisfy regulators and other stakeholders, the financial resources and skills required to generate these data, and how venture capital companies, biopharmaceutical companies, their university technology transfer office and other parties can help academic entrepreneurs achieve their goals.
Nineteen clinical and fundamental researchers participated in this year's course. They came from all over Europe (France, UK, Italy, Norway, Hungary, Germany and Sweden) and work in different aspects of immunology and inflammation. The fifteen-member course faculty covered a wide range of relevant expertise and comprised INSEAD professors (ECA Director Professor Reinhard Angelmar and Professors Bill Magill and Paul Kewene-Hite), a biopharmaceutical intellectual property specialist (Daphné Dérouane, PhD, UCB), venture capitalists specialized in biopharmaceuticals (Lionel Carnot, MSc MBA, Bay City Capital; Sara Núñez-García, PhD MBA, Sofinnova), the director of the King's College Commercialization Institute (Michael Garrison), lawyers specialized in life sciences (Pieter Wyckmans and Olivier Van Obberghen, QUINZ), senior executives from Celgene (Brydon Bennett, PhD, Discovery; Alliance Research; Andrew Hall, RMIT (New Products and Strategic Analytics, Celgene), academic biopharmaceutical entrepreneurs (Ben Owens, PhD, Oxford; Dr. Jean-Loup Romet-Lemonne, New York; Prof. Carlo Pincelli, Modena), and Dr. Ignacio Anegon from the FOCIS Center of Excellence in Nantes.
The small number of participants allowed for intense interaction between participants and faculty and the building of personal networks. A case study provided the opportunity to apply the learnings throughout the course and, in the last part of the course, for teams of participants to develop a business plan and pitch it to a panel including biopharmaceutical and venture capital company representatives.
ECA 2018 will take place at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, on October 15-18, 2018. Applications for the 2018 course will open in December 2017, and for the first time, they will be open to immunologists from Latin America, mainly faculty and trainees from FOCIS Centers of Excellence in Latin America.