AUTM graphic for UHN research institutes
With $37.1 million in gross licensing revenues, UHN ranks No. 1 in Canada and eighth among the top-10 research commercialization hospitals in North America, according to the latest Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) annual survey. (Graphic: UHN)

According to the latest Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) North American Annual Licensing Survey, UHN is the No. 1 research commercialization institution in Canada for the second year running based on gross licensing revenue from the research it has commercialized.

Recently released for 2019-2020, the AUTM annual survey provides an in-depth review of technology licensing and related activity for North American academic and non-profit research institutions.

With $37.1 million in gross licensing revenues, UHN leads the sector in Canada, and ranks eighth among the top-10 research commercialization hospitals in North America.

UHN's licensing revenues are fully re-invested into its four hospitals and seven research institutes to fuel and sustain innovation and discovery.

"Research hospitals are today's biotechnology engines, and it's important that we make Canadians aware of this important role in researching and developing the very best treatments and in fuelling our future economy and employment market," says Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN's President & CEO.

"At UHN, we have the best in science and scientists working to create new options to improve patient care," he says. "​​World-class research and development is expensive and complex, and when we partner with industry, we accelerate our translation of research into treatments, so that patients can benefit, faster.

"​​This is why we commercialize the very best of our knowledge."

Two UHN start-ups contributed the lion's share of the results in the most recent survey.

One is an exclusive license to a UHN discovery being used to develop best-in-class cancer immunotherapy at its oncology start-up, Treadwell Therapeutics. The second is AvroBio, a biotechnology company based on UHN technology to combat rare diseases, now running gene therapy trials in patients with Fabry disease.


Watch the UHN Commercialization video outlining some recent success. (Video: UHN)

Many of the healthcare innovations and discoveries derived from research at UHN create impact on healthcare when delivered to patients through partnerships with the private sector. These discoveries become "​commercialized" as they are transformed into medical devices or products, improvements in care and disease diagnosis, or as they evolve into medical treatments that can significantly change an individual's healthcare journey.

The basic research initiatives and translational expertise of UHN's research and clinical investigators continue to generate a large and growing portfolio of opportunities for corporate partnerships and alliances. All are fuelled by the generous support of UHN Foundation and The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, as well as government and industry partners.

These investments in research and innovation at UHN make discoveries – and their advancement to benefit society – possible.

When research and innovation meet business in the process of commercialization, it's not only patients who benefit. Although maximizing patient impact is always the primary goal, the contribution to our economy is immense as well.

Within the past five years, 14 life science companies created at UHN have attracted more than $1.1 billion in financial investments to the local economy. They include companies such as Adela, Treadwell Therapeutics and BlueRock Therapeutics, each of which have a significant footprint in Toronto, opening offices and creating jobs within our local biotech community.

According to a recent Intellectual Property in Ontario's Innovation Ecosystem Report, life science for patient-facing use requires significant investment, which is often in short supply. That means public research institutions are often forced to transfer rights to their inventions and discoveries – "intellectual property" – too early, often at depressed values.

'Our position today foretells a bright future ahead'

At UHN, intellectual property stewardship includes an in-house technology incubation model, whereby many of its discoveries are nurtured to the point of maturation within the hospital and then licensed to commercial partners and spin-offs globally, for further development or for use in patient care.

"​UHN's commercialization revenue is driven by world-class science and a unique in-house de-risking model for our medical technologies to ensure they are viable options to help support patient care down the road," says Dr. Brad Wouters, UHN's Executive Vice President, Science and Research. "We aim to strike the right balance between opening up opportunities to the right investment partners around North America, and nurturing our companies and technologies to establish home-grown roots.

"The proximity of our start-up companies operating adjacent to the hospital and our world-class facilities and researchers continues to fuel new opportunities for collaboration and growth, powering our local ecosystem into a destination of choice for life-science commercialization," he says.

Mark Taylor, Director, Commercialization at UHN, says "while a tech start-up can spring up seemingly overnight, life science commercialization means we are working to assess whether medical breakthroughs are safe for patient care – and this takes time."

While UHN's commercialization office is about 20 years old, some North American giants such as the Massachusetts General Hospital System, the Mayo Clinic and Cedars Sinai Hospital have been at it since the early 1980s, Mark notes. They boast significant developments, including drugs on the market, he adds.

"Our position today foretells a bright future ahead,"​ Mark says.

Enabling and leading industry partnerships at UHN, Commercialization at UHN is UHN's catalyst for accelerating its world-class research and innovation into medical products, devices and therapies that improve care for patients around the world. This is how we create A Healthier World.​​

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