Universities are trying to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly, whilst also increasing their societal impact. Technology transfer offices are often key to implementing and achieving this strategy.

As a charity, Cancer Research is extremely focused on ensuring that everything it does, delivers the biggest impact possible. One way the charity tries to maximise its impact is through sustainability in research, making sure it conserves the research resources, knowledge and technology it discovers, to ultimately help create better cancer treatments faster.

Without research, new treatments and therapies for cancers as well as other diseases wouldn’t be possible. The resources dedicated to funding research are enormous. In 2018, the pharmaceutical industry spent £1,364 billion on research and development and Cancer Research UK alone has an annual research spend of £500 million. However, only about 14% of the treatments and drugs developed will get FDA approval. This means, that to maximise every chance of success, every opportunity must be seized to explore new ideas. Reducing opportunities for waste and reusing research resources, knowledge and technology is vital to maximise the opportunities for breakthroughs.

One of the biggest areas of waste, is when researchers invest time and money into developing new research tools that have already been created elsewhere. It can be difficult for scientists to identify and access existing research tools that have been developed in other labs. This difficulty increases after the end of research projects, as once these projects end, the academics involved move on, and the materials and knowledge created are often forgotten or left behind in storage units across various university campuses. This can lead to commercial opportunities being lost for technology transfer offices as freezers are cleared of potential valuable reagents to make room for new research projects.

To try to reduce this type of waste, Cancer Research UK has a dedicated team that works with technology transfer offices, worldwide, to identify, promote and create commercial opportunities for life sciences reagents. The Ximbio team, part of the technology transfer office at Cancer Research UK, works specifically on making sure research tools generated by scientists all over the world are easily accessible, to accelerate life science research. With thousands of reagents from thousands of researchers and hundreds of labs across the globe, this single collection of research tools helps to ensure that knowledge and research materials, that would otherwise be lost, are maintained. This portfolio also supports technology transfer offices by providing them with a centralised location of their life sciences reagents and reduces the burden of managing and promoting the reagents themselves. 

“Good science needs the best research tools to carry it out. It is paramount that these research tools are widely and easily available to scientists so that we can maximise the opportunity for breakthroughs.  At Ximbio, we are proud to be supporting life science research by making these tools accessible to any scientist that needs them, through our global technology transfer partnerships.”

- Robert Bondaryk, Ximbio’s Global Head

Sustainability is a hugely topical issue and it should be considered in all walks of life. One of the ways Cancer Research UK and universities can achieve this, is to make sure they are sustainable in their research. If the research industry can avoid wasting resources, time and knowledge, not only will more opportunities for research break throughs arise, but technology transfer offices can take advantage of a new revenue stream and increased commercial opportunities.