IMI: Could you tell us a bit about your company? What is your role in this IMI project?
We are a developer of software and hardware tools for preclinical research, so our role in the project was clear and straightforward: our task was to develop new and improved software for automated behavioural testing of rodent ‘models’ of autism. The requirements for these developments were defined by the academic and pharmaceutical industry partners. We carried out the technical research and development, after which we delivered prototypes to the partners for testing and validation, in an iterative fashion.
IMI: Is this your first IMI project?
Yes, it was our first experience with IMI. Throughout the project, we have had an intensive collaboration with academic partners, pharmaceutical companies and – more recently – another SME.
IMI: How is your company benefitting from participating in EU-AIMS?
This IMI project has helped us in multiple ways.
First of all, being a member of a network of leading academic and industrial players in our sector, with direct access to the relevant individuals and frequent opportunities for informal interaction, has been of great value. It has generated positive exposure to our company and contributed to our image as a science-driven, customer-oriented and forward-looking product developer.
Secondly, the project has been driving technical advancement and innovation in a market segment that is of strategic importance for our company. We have good hopes that if our new tools pass the tests within the IMI project, they will be adopted as standard tools across the industry.
Last but not least, the IMI organization has helped us by disseminating information about the project and our company through news releases on its website and other channels, which is again contributing to the visibility of our company in the European biomedical research arena.
All in all, participation in EU-AIMS has been a very positive experience so far. We hope it won’t be our last IMI project!
IMI: Some SMEs interested in participating in IMI projects are concerned about being able to protect their intellectual property rights (IP) within big consortia. Could you share your experience with IP in this project?
The IP arrangements as laid down in the consortium agreement were very straightforward: background IP brought into the project by a partner remains with that partner, foreground IP generated by a partner remains with that partner, and jointly developed IP is shared. In practice that meant that the IP related to design of the software and hardware was generated exclusively by us and remains with us, while IP related to the compounds, animals and test protocols remains with the other partners. This has worked very well and we have not had any IP-related issues during the course of the project.