Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Health, Science & Tech

Pitt, UPMC Reach Agreement to Speed Up Commercialization

The University of Pittsburgh and UPMC have signed an agreement to streamline the commercialization of medical research technologies and techniques.

The arrangement skips the negotiation process by pre-setting the terms of licensing, royalties and new company equity, allowing technology to get out of the lab and into the hospital between 60 and 90 days sooner, according to Marc Malandro, director of Pitt’s Innovation Institute.

“UPMC and Pitt have been really good at collaborating on the research side. So, for instance, we have a lot of physicians who work at UPMC who also do research and teach here at Pitt,” he said. “What we wanted to do was try to extend on that collaboration to commercialization.”

To do that, the school will rely on startup companies, according to Malandro. He said Pitt and UPMC have formed companies in the past, but communication under the old contract was inconsistent.

“Our relationships were done in a fairly ad hoc basis,” he said,” but now that we’re going to be meeting regularly, having discussions regularly, the goal is to commercialize through startup companies in the region and to do that as efficiently as possible.”

Malandro couldn’t say how much of an economic impact the new contract will have on the region, but Tal Heppenstall, president of UPMC Enterprises, said he expects new medical technology companies to give UPMC’s $12 billion revenue stream a serious bump.

“UPMC Enterprises is really trying to diversify UPMC’s revenue stream,” he said. “So what we’re really looking forward to being able to do is to continue the ‘meds and eds’ revolution here in Pittsburgh by making commercial revenues available.”

But the agreement isn’t exclusive, according to Malandro. He said Pitt can license products to organizations other than UPMC, and the healthcare giant can continue to work with other technology developers.

“One of the beauties of the partnership is we’ll work on things together that we jointly think are important,” Malandro said.

The first of Pitt’s technology to be licensed by UPMC under the new agreement is a genetic test that can determine if treatment for a patient with prostate cancer is the best option. In cases where the cancer won’t lead to death, Heppenstall said treatment can be unnecessary and expensive.