Boston Scientific ($BSX) sealed a new, wide-ranging research agreement with the University of Minnesota, underscoring the increased importance of academia to device companies seeking the next big innovation. The deal also highlights the Massachusetts stalwart's focus on recharging revenue growth through a number of areas.
Both parties aren't discussing the financial aspects of this deal and they are sharing few other details. But it is still important to note because the agreement shows the increased savvy among academic research institutions about working with industry in the development of new intellectual property. It also highlights how both are becoming more interdependent. Companies can replenish their product pipelines through academic partnerships, and universities, in turn, enhance an increasingly important source of revenue.
The University of Minnesota admits as much, mentioning that the deal is the first to arise from a new approach toward technology coming from "research projects funded by business and industry partners." The program governing this--Minnesota Innovation Partnerships--governs areas including intellectual property rights, publication process, liability and details on research contracts. Boston Scientific's and other partnerships in the program also no longer require parties to renegotiate for every new research project. And the arrangement also offers a streamlined approach to royalties, which kick in after reaching "significant commercial success."
Boston Scientific, for its part, was happy to oblige with an official statement in the University of Minnesota announcement touting the new program as "a much more efficient and innovative way to approach a university partnership" We don't know what specific projects are involved as of yet, but the parties say they'll be identified over time and UM researchers "from a broad range of fields" will take part.
After a few years of sluggish earnings and a decline in sales for crucial cardiac products, Boston Scientific is focusing on rolling out new and revamped products to reverse its fortunes. Research and development is another significant arrow in the quiver; the company spent $895 million on global research and development in 2011.
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