Ann Angel is the CEO of Riancorp Pty Ltd, a small company that manufactures laser devices for the treatment of post-mastectomy lymphedema. This is a potentially debilitating condition that can affect patients following breast cancer surgery. The laser device helps to prevent serious post-surgery swelling and discomfort due to the retention of lymphatic fluid.
Ms Angel’s company collaborated with researchers at Flinders University in South Australia to carry out clinical trials to establish the safety and efficacy of their device. These clinical trials are necessary to obtain the regulatory approvals needed to market a medical device. Riancorp received an Australian Government grant which helped to fund the clinical trials at the University.
Benefits from this collaboration flowed to both parties. Riancorp received high quality research to enable it to gain regulatory approval in many countries. Riancorp also retained full ownership of the patent covering the device and of subsequent patents arising from its collaboration with the University.
Flinders University further developed its expertise in the area of clinical trials and use of medical laser devices. Importantly, the University gained professional and international recognition. The graduate student who conducted the trials won a prize for their research and presented their findings at an international conference in Italy.
Ms Angel’s relationship with the University has been an ongoing and mutually beneficial one. They continue to share knowledge to maintain their respective expertise in this field. Industry collaboration is becoming increasingly important for universities and is commonly one of the performance criteria for promotion of academic staff. Ms Angel has been able to provide letters of support for academic staff she has collaborated with, which has assisted them in gaining promotions.
Riancorp exports its medical device all over the world. The Professor who led the research attended her meetings with the US Federal Drug Administration to support the application for regulatory approval in that country and has also presented the research results in Japan, Korea and New Zealand.
Ms Angel’s advice to potential collaborators is to ensure that you focus on developing a good relationship first, then work through the legal matters that need to be handled. A good relationship with the researchers who will carry out the work can be instrumental in getting the project smoothly through the contract development stage.