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Genomics Research and
Intellectual Property
A Perspective from the Private Sector
Nancy Tout, Ph.D.
Head R&D Syngenta Canada
● Ph.D. In Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Guelph and
completed post-doctoral training in the Department of Environmental Biology (UG)
● Employed in R&D within Syngenta for the past 12 years
● Leadership role heading up the Canadian R&D team for the past 3 years
● Recently appointed to the Science and Innovation Advisory Committee of
Bioenterprise Corporation to advise on trends in global research in the agritechnology sectors
● ADM Presentation (Jan.2011), Barriers to Open Innovation in Canada. Syngenta
encourages new innovation models that are more open and consultative AND
provide adequate value-capture mechanisms to recoup investments
● Role of attracting global R&D investment to Canada (SYT spends $1B annually in
R&D), an investment that would not happen without enforceable commercial
Considerations in Effective IP Management
● Valuation
● Commercialization of Genomics
● Collaboration
● R&D Imbalance (both must be done well)
- a large majority of genomics research is knowledge and platform-based info
- R not aligned with private industry needs gleaned from the market
- often over-valued, narrow understanding of the context in which it will be
- never/rarely accounts for QA, RA, M&S, GA, stewardship, regulatory $$$$
- D delivers products to the market
- research community not equipped and often there are no incentives to develop
● Ignite the potential for “economic”-based/”customer”-based innovation throughout
the research community
● build commercial capability in R&D community (business plan, SWOT
Genomics and IP
● Genomics is a very small part of the overall plant system, unlike a drug
or software, making it difficult to justify the cost
● Canadian commercial opportunity is small compared with the US and
thus the IP protection and regulations often become barriers
● Who owns the IP, the R or the D (the trait may be interesting but what
about stewardship/corporate sustainability $$$$)
● Genomics is just data (discovery and platform based), its understanding,
manipulation and utilization is what drives its value
● Selling the science of genomics is challenging. Genomics is a platform
for understanding how plants work. Downstream is what drives value
● IP does not facilitate collaboration and it often achieves the opposite
● Partnership....a relationship based on trust and cooperation.
- IP tends to damage this interplay before a “deal” can be struck
- Partners are not often “business friendly”
- IP negotiations often start off on a completely different level of understanding
(large gaps in TTO skillsets)
● “fundamental purpose of managing IP should be to create knowledge networks
and markets that facilitate access to and use of knowledge while providing
incentives to invest in knowledge creation and dissemination and taking into
account of the broader needs of stakeholder communities”