The Significance of Academia-Industry Collaboration in Translational Research: A Survey of Over 300 PIs Who Have Received Industry Funding.

Davie NL, Ovseiko P, Hyde SC, Barker R, Gill DR

Molecular Therapy, Vol 23, S1, Abstract 473


The American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy Annual Conference, New Orleans, 2015


In the 24 years since the first gene therapy (GT) was administered to a human patient, the gene therapy field has advanced significantly. Recent clinical success in several diseases and the approval of Glybera (UniQure) in 2012 have heralded a new wave of investment from the private sector. This investment is evidenced by several high profile academia-industry collaborations. As the frequency of such interactions increases, understanding the role of industry in the development of GT becomes increasingly important. In this project, over 300 life science principal investigators (PIs) who have received industry funding were surveyed to examine the role of collaboration in their research.

Research Questions

  1. What motivates life science academics to engage with industry? 
  2. What do academics perceive to be the key advantages and disadvantages of receiving industry funding?
  3. What are the characteristics of the research/researchers that receive industry funding?
  4. What barriers to successful collaboration have been encountered?
  5. How can universities facilitate future collaboration?


To understand the current landscape of industry-academia collaboration in the life sciences, two world-class universities were identified for in depth analysis. The University of Oxford and University College London have high levels of collaboration relative to other UK institutions, receiving more than 30% of all industry funding to UK universities between 2008-13. Within these institutions, the attitudes and experiences of life science PIs who have received funding from industry were examined using a validated for-purpose survey instrument. Survey results were statistically analysed using SPSS software, and qualitative data from open-ended questions were analysed thematically. Participants were invited to follow up interviews to add further detail and identify points of interest.


The survey response rate exceeded 78%. Preliminary results indicate that the majority of funding from industry is in the sponsorship of investigator-led research at early (T0) stages of translation. Results from thematic analysis show that the primary motivation for entering into collaboration is financial, followed by desire for research progress and clinical translation. 86% of respondents agreed that universities should strive to increase collaboration with industry.


This on-going project highlights the key motivations, advantages and disadvantages of collaboration, and emphasises the need for further research in this area. Several previously identified barriers to collaboration were quantified and this information is being used to develop strategies to support the effectiveness of collaborations.

Future plans

Due to the high response rate and level of interest in this project, a similar study focusing on the role of collaboration in GT is underway. The initial phase of this study comprises interviews with GT stakeholders from around the world.


Session: Poster Session: Clinical Translation of Vector Production and Protocol Preparation I (5:30 PM-7:00 PM)
Date/Time: Thursday, May 14, 2015 - 5:30 pm
Room: Elite Hall A