University collaboration with industry scoops prestigious award

University collaboration with industry scoops prestigious award

A partnership between the University of Aberdeen and one of its most successful former spinout companies has triumphed at a major awards ceremony.

The University’s work with Haptogen (now Pfizer) beat off competition from across the country to secure a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Scotland Award.

Haptogen – which was spun out from the University in 2002 and acquired by the US pharmaceutical giant Wyeth Inc, now Pfizer, in 2007 – is a drug discovery business aiming to engineer antibodies to create more tailored and less toxic treatments for diseases such as cancer.

The Aberdeen-Pfizer KTP won the Best Partnership Award for Scotland presented by Angela Constance, Scotland’s Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is a UK-wide programme enabling businesses to improve their competitiveness, productivity and performance

Dr Soumya Palliyil, from the University of Aberdeen was the KTP associate for the project, which ran from 2006 to 2009, said working closely with industry had provided new insight into the business side of drug development.

She said: “Working with the Company’s business development team looking at market opportunities for our drugs was invaluable for someone with a background focussed in science.I was hugely fortunate to shadow the Business Development team during the Haptogen acquisition process, which was a rare opportunity indeed’’

“I graduated with a PhD degree in summer 2010 as a result of this KTP programme and studied for an NVQ Level 4 in Management which was part of the Associate Personal Development Programme..

“All this training certainly helped me in my current role as a SULSA (Scottish Universities Life Science Alliance) Fellow running the Scottish Biologics Facility, a centre for biologic drug discovery that provides services to academic institutions and to industry across Scotland,

Dr Palliyil said she was surprised and delighted when the Aberdeen-Pfizer KTP was announced as the winner, beating off competition from 14 other nominees.

She said: “Often the awards seem to go to smaller companies which can demonstrate how the KTP has helped to improve turnover or profit. With drug development, it takes ten to 12 years for anything to get to the market so we needed to show how the KTP will benefit both the University and Pfizer over the longer-term.

“The company benefited from numerous publications and international presentations on three continents while we were also able to demonstrate the benefit to students with many Masters’ projects undertaken which were based around the KTP.”

Andy Porter, Professor of Biotechnology at the University of Aberdeen and the original founding academic of Haptogen, added: “This is a flagship initiative bringing the University and industry together.

“The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Scotland Awards are highly competitive and we were up against other excellent KTPs so we were delighted to win the award.

“Many people see Aberdeen as just an oil and gas city however this award builds on Aberdeen’s growing reputation as Scotland's centre for drug discovery and the largest UK centre of biologics drug discover outside of Cambridge.”

The award was presented at the Doubletree Dunblane Hydro in Perthshire on Tuesday (February 1).

The Aberdeen-Pfizer KTP will now go through to the UK finals of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Awards to be held in London in October.