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Scientific Entrepreneurship From The Bar


VALENCIA (LAURA GARSANDO). How can academic research be transferred to private companies for its applicability? That is the everlasting question that keeps bothering scientists. The way to proceed in knowledge transfer is yet to be defined, which hinders success. That is why a group of entrepreneurial scientists from the Valencian Community propose an alternative and innovative model based on informal and periodical meetings in leisure venues, which intend to encourage the creation of technologically based companies. This is how the TEI Bio (Transfer, entrepreneurship and invest in Bioscience) meetings seek to strengthen knowledge transfer, entrepreneurship and investment in the biomedical sector with the intention of creating a powerful business fabric both at a local and a national level. These meetings have also become the catalyst of a social movement as well as the entrepreneurship culture.

Since January 2013, there have been four meetings in which «attendance has been exponentially increasing, reaching fifty people», as Manuel Pérez Alonso pointed out. This entrepreneurial scientist is the manager of Bioval (Bioregion of the Valencian Community) and one of the promoters of this initiative, together with the Valencian company Genera Biotech and the Valencian foundation InnDea.

How the TEI Bio meetings work is quite simple: they monthly call a meeting through the Internet, and set a date, place and time for this meeting. A scientist with a solid career in the business world participates in these meetings and tells the attendees about his or her own experience. The goal is having these meetings in a relaxed atmosphere. «We had this idea because we have been noticing for some time that meetings on knowledge transfer held in a more institutionalised environment did not encourage the creation of businesses. That is why we thought that organising informal meetings where attendees freely interact with each other might be interesting, because there are no fixed roles. The speaker can be interrupted at any point», explained Manuel Pérez.

Manuel Pérez Alonso

This means that the TEI Bio meetings provide an alternative to the traditional one-way conferences. «We have managed to create more fluent relations between scientists and investors. People come ready to listen and debate, because here everyone can learn», stated Ana Blanco, scientific director of Genera Biotech.


In their last meeting, the heterogeneity of the attendees was very remarkable. Among them were young people, but also scientists with intense careers or experienced in the private sector and were just seeking to exchange their experiences or simply keep updated with new projects. One of the attendees was Javier S. Burgos, co-founder and scientific director of Neuron BioPharma, a branch of the group Neuron Bio, which works on the development of compounds that help preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease.

Javier S. Burgos answered questions for more than an hour, which were particularly concerned about funding. There are different resources to cover your expenses: «Founding partners, capital increase, floating the company on the stock market, sales revenue, R&D government grants...» added the scientist. However, success lies in « a competitive idea».


Relationships with investors are the main obstacles scientists have to overcome to start up their businesses since «we seem to speak different languages», and that is why «we have to learn how to communicate with them», advised Burgos. He still remembers his shock when someone asked him «what are you able to do that can be sold?» Certainly «it is something that academic knowledge does not teach you», he regretted.

The researcher affirmed that «floating the company on the stock market was a wise decision for NeuronBioPharma, because it makes the company visible and at the same time forces it to have its accounts audited». But science and profits should coexist following «a sustainable model, where ethics are very important and money is never prioritised against science and the common good», stated Manuel Pérez. Because enterprising is, «obtaining revenues, like in any other business, from helping and offering solutions to society», claimed Joaquín Durán, young assistant and entrepreneur.

Maybe these TEI Bio meetings are to open the way for developing the culture of entrepreneurship, which already exist in countries like the United States. «The problem lies in education, because universities do not encourage entrepreneurship. On the other hand, investments in biotechnology are very risky, with long-term benefits, something that investors do not understand», pointed out Durán, who is well acquainted with the American scientific scene. We can claim that the model of the TEI Bio meetings has been successful and is to be exported to other cities like Madrid in the near future. In Valencia, the V TEI Bio meeting will be held next July.

Full text available at Mètode's website.

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