Photo: Inven2 / Moment Studio.
Inven2 is 10 years in 2020. ‘I’m proud of what we have achieved over these ten years. I’m particularly proud of the fact that we have contributed to ploughing NOK 500 million back into new research, innovation and to inventors,’ says Ole Kristian Hjelstuen, CEO of Inven2.
Inven2 was established in 2010 through the merger of Medinnova, Rikshospitalet Hospital’s technology transfer office, Birkeland Innovasjon and the technology transfer office at the University of Oslo.
In connection with the merger, it was decided that Oslo University Hospital would own half of Inven2 on behalf of the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority, and that Inven2 would serve all the health trusts that fall under the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority.
In practice, this means that when a member of staff at the University of Oslo or one of the nine health trusts that fall under the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority has an idea for a product or service, they should contact Inven2.
Over the past ten years, Inven2 has contributed to the following:
- 55 start-ups
- 2,072 new innovations (DOFIs)
- 260 new patent applications
- 388 license agreements
- NOK 582 million ploughed back into research, innovation and to inventors
- 1,500 clinical agreements
The owners cannot take out dividend from Inven2. This means that all income must be ploughed back into new research and innovation.
‘I’m proud that we, together with the researchers and the ecosystem, have contributed to ploughing more than half a billion kroner back into new research and innovation,’ says Ole Kristian Hjelstuen, CEO of Inven2.
In addition, the companies that have been established have seen a huge increase in their value.
‘So far, we have participated in establishing 55 companies, and the value creation of our portfolio has increased from half a billion kroner in 2010 to NOK 15 billion this year. More importantly, these companies have created jobs and societally beneficial products and services in the global market,’ says Hjelstuen.
CANCER VACCINE, TRANSPORT ISOLATOR AND MUCH MORE
Inven2’s work during these past ten years in cooperation with many others has helped to bring many products and services to market, while others are still under development.
It is difficult to select examples of innovations that Inven2 has played a part in, but the following examples give an impression of the range:
- Ultimovacs is developing a universal cancer vaccine. It was established in 2010 based on cancer research conducted at the Norwegian Radium Hospital. The company is now listed on the stock market, and has sound owners such as Bjørn Rune Gjelsten and Stein Erik Hagen. They are currently conducting clinical trials all over the world to test their cancer vaccine UV-1 in combination with other cancer drugs for treating a number of types of cancer. They are planning to apply for market approval in a few years.
- The transport isolator EpiShuttle developed by the company EpiGuard has experienced an international breakthrough during the Covid 19 pandemic. During the past six months, it has been purchased by a number of countries in Europe, and the company has also landed a distribution agreement for the USA and Canada. It was Doctor Fridtjof Heyerdahl who got the idea for a transport isolator while working with people infected with Ebola in Congo in 2014. He saw how difficult it was to protect health workers from infection when moving seriously ill patients.
- The licence agreement between Merck and clinicians at Sørlandet Hospital for the use of cancer drugs to treat serious nerve pain. The agreement is worth billions and is one of the most valuable licence agreements ever granted in Norway.
- MeshCrafts is one of the companies that was started through the Inven2 Start competition. It has developed a system for power management and has done well in the Norwegian market. It is now looking to expand internationally.
‘We could have mentioned so many other examples, but I believe these examples highlight the breadth of what we do,’ says Hjelstuen.
Åse Aulie Michelet, Chair of the Board of Inven2, is impressed by the results.
‘I’m very proud of what we have achieved at Inven2. It is the expertise and drive shown by our staff that contributes to the good results over time. Few people realise that the market value of the start-up companies that Inven2 has helped to establish, and still partly owns, is more than NOK 15 billion,’ says Michelet.
Thirty-two people from wide-ranging interdisciplinary backgrounds currently work for Inven2. Hjelstuen believes that the organisation has developed and become more professional during the past 10 years.
Inven2’s mandate has from the start been to administer the commercialisation of inventions and to administer clinical studies.
‘I believe the results indicate that we are doing a lot right in the phase where we select the ideas we want to move forward with and in how we contribute to developing them. In relation to the mandate, we have managed to figure out how to license innovations,’ says Hjelstuen.
Hjelstuen points out that Inven2 has grown in tandem with the ecosystem, which has also matured and become more professional in recent years.
‘Not long ago, entrepreneurship was not the buzzword it is today, and nor did we not have as many investors, incubators or clusters to cooperate with ten years ago. The researchers’ ability and willingness to innovate has also taken a giant leap. They see the value of helping to ensure that patients the world over can enjoy better lives as a result of their ideas for products or services,’ says Hjelstuen.
Inven2 is responsible for managing the contractual and financial aspects of clinical trials and industrial collaborations that are funded in whole or in part by industry.
‘Since 2010, we have initiated 1,500 new clinical studies, of which 400 are currently ongoing. Through this work, we have helped Norwegian patients to gain access to a new treatment several years before a treatment is universally available,’ says Hjelstuen.
Inven2 is responsible for the clinical trials of all the nine health trusts in the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority and at the University Hospital of Northern Norway.
CONGRATULATIONS FROM STØLEN AND BJØRNBETH
Oslo University Hospital and the University of Oslo, which together own Inven2, congratulate Inven2 on their anniversary and are looking forward to the realisation of new exciting projects.
‘We congratulate Inven2 on its anniversary. The University of Oslo believes it is important that research should lead to start-ups, jobs and value creation. Inven2 plays a key role in the ecosystem required to achieve precisely this. We are impressed by the facts and figures for the first ten years, and we have great expectations of the next ten years. Together, we are building a strong and efficient innovation culture,’ says Svein Stølen, Rector of the University of Oslo.
Bjørn Atle Bjørnbeth, CEO of Oslo University Hospital, highlights the strategically important role Inven2 plays in terms of innovation and clinical trials.
‘We congratulate Inven2 on its 10th anniversary. The establishment of Inven2 has proven to be a very important and successful part of the strategic cooperation between Oslo University Hospital and the University of Oslo, and it has contributed to increasing the quality and scope of innovation activities. A big part of the research-driven innovation activity at Oslo University Hospital takes place at the interface between the University of Oslo, but Inven2 also acts as a technology transfer office (TTO) for all the other hospitals in the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority. We would also like to give credit to Inven2 for the important role it plays in connection with agreements on clinical trials and cooperation with industry partners,’ says Bjørnbeth.
PAST AND FUTURE
Hjelstuen is looking forward to the next ten years, and believes that we will also see many positive developments going forward.
‘In many ways, we are just getting started. Half of the added value we have contributed to creating since 2010 is based on the history of Medinnova and Birkeland Innovasjon. Given that the development of research-based innovation requires time and capital, we will see even greater value creation during the next ten years,’ says Hjelstuen.
He believes that more new companies will be established, and that it is small companies that value creation will take place going forward.
‘It will be exciting to follow developments as digital technology really starts converging with other technology and knowledge. I believe we are still unable to fathom the full potential of this,’ says Hjelstuen.
He is also very positive about the idea of the universities and university hospitals playing a leading role in order to contribute to more innovation.
‘The new life science building that will be completed in a few years could become a locomotive for new thinking and cooperation between business and industry, hospitals and the universities. Inven2 will do its part to ensure that the ideas that arise at the intersection between these parties reach the market and those that need them,’ says Hjelstuen.