| 5 minute read

Meet the university-industry matchmaker, IN-PART, unlocking innovation from academic research

Alexandra Zinovyeva

IN-PART is an online matchmaking platform for
university-industry collaboration. Some people have compared it to a match.com
for academia and industry. At IN-PART, we help to unlock innovation from
research by simplifying the process through which discoveries made in
universities and research institutes are developed into new products, drugs and
technologies via collaboration with industry.

the platform launched in January 2014, IN-PART has initiated over 5,000 new
interactions between academia and industry. The conversations that have
resulted from these new connections have led to everything from grant funding for
collaborative research
co-development projects, and testing new materials and proprietary
to product development, licensing deals, and long-term strategic

Where did the idea come from?

Founders of IN-PART, Patrick Speedie and Robin Knight, arrived at the idea for
the platform while sharing a pint of beer in London. Although, their story goes
a lot further back than that (they were best friends at school).

a pub one evening near London Bridge, Robin and Patrick were catching up,
sharing their recent experiences of the difficulty in starting new
conversations between academia and industry. At the time, Robin was a
postdoctoral researcher at Kings College London. He was faced with the
challenge of getting a discovery that his team had made seen by the right
people in industry. Patrick was working at an IP publishing house, and at a
conference the previous week he witnessed a spontaneous encounter between an
academic and an R&D manager who had been looking for each other’s expertise
for years.

wondered if there was an easier way to connect the worlds of academia and
business, and over the coming weeks sketched out their idea and drew up a
business plan. The concept: an online platform that connects academia and
industry by alerting R&D teams to commercially-viable academic research in
their areas of interest, with a team on-hand to organise and coordinate the
initial introduction.

Who uses IN-PART?

have come a long way since 2014, where we had 6 UK universities and 50 R&D
companies using the platform. IN-PART now provides an output for early-stage
innovation from over 220 universities and research institutes across 6
continents. These include Columbia, Cornell, UPenn, Max Planck, Leiden, Vienna,
Lund, Erasmus Medical Centre, Osaka, Hokkaido, Queensland, the Australian
National University and the University of Hong Kong, along with leading UK
institutes such as Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Manchester.

find new industry partners for our academic clients, we have established
relationships with R&D professionals across a network of 5,500+
research-intensive companies, including teams in all of the top 25 global
R&D-spending firms. And this network grows daily. Already this year we’ve
had heads of R&D, product development managers, principal scientists, and
open innovation leads at Roche, J&J, GSK, Samsung, IBM, and Google X sign
up to use the platform.

How does it work?

smart matchmaking algorithms and proactive outreach, we are able to send
personalised alerts to R&D professionals with relevant breakthroughs in
their area from academic researchers. When an R&D professional sees a
project on IN-PART that is of interest, we initiate an introduction to the
relevant individual at the university.

when an R&D team with matching interests declines an opportunity that we
send them, we capture their response and pass it back to the university,
providing a valuable insights into how projects needs to be further developed
and better positioned for commercialisation. We also track interaction data
through the platform to provide metrics of engagement that form the basis for
more informed decision-making about commercialisation.

business model is straightforward. IN-PART is free to access for companies.
Universities and research institutes pay an annual subscription to showcase
their research and opportunities on the platform. We don’t claim royalties and
we don’t take a cut of any deals. IN-PART’s founders built the company this way
to maximize accessibility to university research, providing the greatest chance
for it to impact society by getting it out of the lab and onto the market.

IN-PART free for companies removes any barriers for them to access innovation
from academia. It also means that we work in close contact with the people in
universities who are responsible for technology transfer, knowledge exchange,
and research commercialisation. This ensures that the opportunities on the
platform are up-to-date, and that the individuals responsible for the research
are actively looking to work with industry. Fundamentally, this business models
allows us to initiate meaningful conversations between engaged individuals in
academia and industry.

What’s in store for the future?

April, we announced our Founders secured a €1.1-million investment to boost our international growth and
accelerate the development of our matchmaking platform for university-industry
collaboration. With this, we will be able to expand our team with key strategic
expertise, and continue to improve the functionality of the platform and the
service we offer.

beyond the matchmaking platform, we are also working to scale-up a new product,
called Discover. Where our
matchmaking platform provides a ‘technology push’ into industry for
universities, Discover provides a ‘market pull’ for industry.

Discover, corporate R&D teams can leverage the relationships IN-PART has
established with teams across an extended academic network. This allows
companies to directly engage relevant teams in universities with their
technology or expertise requirements or solicit proposals for new research from
academia. In short, we have developed a unique system for R&D teams to
leverage an engaged global university network.

both our Discover system and matchmaking platform, our vision is to further
establish IN-PART as the go-to platform for connecting universities and
academic institutes worldwide.

To learn more about how IN-PART can help
your institute or company access a global network of innovation, start a
conversation with our team via [email protected]

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