Looking to attract global biopharmaceutical and medical technology companies to conduct their medical research and clinical trials in Massachusetts, 14 of the state’s academic medical centers (AMCs) have launched a new web portal that allows companies to pitch their ideas using a single online application.
Called the Massachusetts Clinical Innovation Gateway, the portal enables international pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device firms to complete a five-page online application proposing clinical research opportunities to be considered by select AMCs in the greater Boston area. The Gateway’s formation is the result of work by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) and the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals (COBTH) and was announced recently at the BIO International Convention in Philadelphia.
Based on the no-cost application, each hospital has up to 60 days to elect to pursue the opportunity proposed or to indicate no interest.
“Providing a common point of entry to explore partnerships with one or more hospitals is a good thing to do for a variety of companies in this very competitive research environment,” said John Erwin, executive director of COBTH. The organization represents most of the teaching and research hospitals in the state and advocates policies favorable to academic medicine and the Massachusetts economy. COBTH, along with the Massachusetts Life Science Center, developed the portal and the online application.
The use of a single point of contact for the Gateway portal stems from a recent hospital trade mission to Israel where hospital executives were bombarded with research and clinical trial proposals by companies seeking to work with Massachusetts hospitals. However, most of the Israeli company representatives were unfamiliar with the state’s AMCs.
“From that mission, we came up with a centralized way that now includes an application for each company to provide us with enough information to make an initial judgment whether the proposal is worth considering and following it up,” Erwin said. “The form also requires enough detailed information about that company and its track record for us to weed out businesses that might not be up to par to become partners with us.”
Since its launch a little over a week ago, one sponsor company already has used the Gateway portal. Erwin expects the portal will eventually receive as many as a dozen applications per month from domestic and international biopharmaceutical and device companies.
“The mission hit the point home for us,” said Chris Philbin, vice president for government and community relations at UMass Memorial Health Care representing the state’s medical college in Worcester, Mass. The hospital accepted COBTH’s invitation to join the Gateway portal. “Just to be accessible for industry representatives to collaborate is great for us. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if other states follow the Gateway portal idea. We are all going through a dynamic period of transformation in healthcare delivery and Massachusetts’ teaching hospitals are taking the lead.”
For the MLSC, an investment agency that supports life sciences innovation, research, development and commercialization, the Gateway will play a role in encouraging collaboration in product development and possibly help small companies establish operations in Massachusetts.
“By making it easier and more straight-forward for companies to collaborate with Massachusetts’ academic medical centers, the Gateway can help strengthen our economy and improve patient care,” said Angus G. McQuilken, MLSC vice president for communications and marketing.
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