Industry Express program inks first licensing deal

By Michael Terrazas

Industry Express, a recent initiative launched by the Office of Research’s Industry Engagement program, has signed its first deal with a company looking to license UGA research.

ECO Animal Health, a drug-development company based in London, has signed a deal for just over $1 million to license research-related innovations from the lab of Naola Ferguson-Noel, associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and a researcher in the Poultry Diagnostic & Research Center. 

Ferguson-Noel studies Mycoplasma gallisepticum, a bacterium that can cause severe respiratory disease in poultry. She is working toward a vaccine for Mycoplasma-related illnesses in poultry, which she says the U.S. government has been attempting to mitigate since the 1930s. 

Mycoplasma-related illnesses in poultry can be financially devastating to commercial poultry producers with global losses estimated at more than 500 million pounds annually,” said Peter Lawrence, chairman of ECO Animal Health. “We are delighted to have entered this collaboration with UGA and expect that further innovative developments will follow.”

“Although Mycoplasma control programs are often based on biosecurity, early detection, quarantine and elimination of positive flocks, vaccination is also a good option in some circumstances,” Ferguson-Noel said. “I do think a vaccine is within reach.”

UGA has significantly stepped up its activity in industry licensing in the last decade. For 10 straight years, the university has ranked in the top 10 nationwide for overall deal flow, and to date more than 700 UGA products and technologies have been introduced to the marketplace. However, depending on the technology and the company involved, negotiations for individual deals can be extensive.

Industry Express was created to streamline the contracting process. The program offers a standard licensing agreement that avoids time-consuming negotiations and allows all sides to focus on bringing UGA research innovations to market as quickly as possible.

“Our goal is to get the technology out there. We want to encourage collaboration between industry and the university, and Industry Express allows us to have the terms known up front, so companies can more easily quantify their cost,” said Nick Hinson, contracting officer in Sponsored Projects Administration. “It’s good for us, too, because you can just plug in the company information and go. This was a $1 million deal, and it was as easy as a $10,000 deal.”