Panel discussion: global translation centres collaborating to advance stem cell therapies

Chris Mason facilitated a panel discussion today at the World Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine Congress on the global translation centres collaborating to advance stem cell therapies.

Panel discussion included Michael May, Zahid Latif, Todd McAllister, Ruth McKernan and Greg Bonfiglio. The panel discussed the importance of global translation centers collaborating to advance stem cell therapies.

Michael May, the CEO of Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) told about his company. CCRM was set up relatively recently, and know all about the set up challenges. In Canada there have been 100's of dollars invested in collaborating centers. CCRM brought together 6 institutions that represent more than 90% of regenerative medicine and cell therapy. Michael highlighted that their focus is product development technologies & combining stem cell technology with engineering. Another strategic development that is important for CCRM is to integrate excellence in science with business leadership: new employees have been hired, various industry projects have been launched, more than 35 inventions were made, first company creation was made and 3 other company creations have been identified. CCRM are looking at assets that they have, and thinking of what they could create collaboratively. Last week Pfizer-CCRM innovation fund was launched, as well as various discussions on collaboration outside Canada are being undertaken.

Zahid Latif spoke about the Technology Strategy Board, which is the UK's business innovation agency and they try to identify and support those companies who are in particular need for it. They are a knowledge resource, which helps people address those challenges that they haven't been able to tackle due to lack of finance.

To further highlight the importance of translation centers, Ruth has commented that successful projects need to be stimulated by investments: "We need to see the project succeed on a bigger scale. The investors need to be convinced that the value is there."

All money that you spend don't really move the technology forward. Todd believes that at the earliest stages when you are an academic fresh out of the lab – translation centers are incredibly important because of the funding they provide. In addition to that, in Greg's opinion -  you need to find the technology and move it forward as quickly and efficiently as possible, you don't need to build your own lab, as technology centers offer you the opportunity to do that without having to set up your own lab. In addition to that, you can get support from the experts in the technology lab.

Not only translation centers are working with researchers and SME's , but they also collaborate with each other. There is a coalition of translation centers as they are trying to knit the existing centers into one powerful coalition.

To summarise – the most important for everyone on the panel is to drive the technology forward.

Check back here in a couple of days for the presentations.

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