LONDON ¿ A technology transfer company has been set up with #500,000 (US$812,000), with a mission to commercialize cancer research carried out in the U.K.

Cancer Research Ventures (CRV) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cancer Research Campaign Technology Ltd. (CRCT), which is itself the technology-transfer arm of the cancer charity, the Cancer Research Campaign.

Guy Heathers, chief operating officer of CRV, told BioWorld International the company had been set up in response to demand by researchers. ¿Over the past three or four years, CRCT has had a growing number of requests from the U.K. and overseas asking us to do technology transfer,¿ he said. ¿As CRCT was set up solely to commercialize research funded by CRCT we have had to say no.¿

Market research carried out by CRCT indicated that there was a need for a cancer-technology transfer company to provide a focus for research funded by other charities. ¿There are some world-class cancer research programs in the U.K. to which CRV can now bring the skills and expertise needed for their rapid and successful commercial development,¿ Heathers said.

CRV will have a close association with CRCT, gaining access to databases, industry contacts, services and know-how. It will be staffed by people from CRCT, with Sue Foden acting as joint CEO of the two companies. Heathers said CRV would adopt the same proactive approach as CRCT, talking to researchers and advising them to develop research along particular lines to ensure that it would be patentable. ¿We will go out and talk to researchers and try to direct research,¿ Heathers said.

Half the funding for CRV has come from the U.K. government under the Biotechnology Exploitation Platform grants scheme, with the rest from a London law firm, Cameron McKenna; the charity the Leukemia Research Fund and the patent specialist Mewburn Ellis.

CRV has already agreed to act for the Leukemia Research Fund, Marie Curie Cancer Care and the Association for International Cancer Research, and has taken on a number of projects with U.K. universities.

The start-up funding will last four years, by which time CRV expects to be around the same size as its parent CRCT, which currently has a turnover of around #3.5 million per annum. Heathers expects that three to four companies a year will be set up around the technology it sources. ¿Start-ups are now one of the main routes to commercialize technology, though obviously we also expect to do a lot of licensing,¿ he said. n