The National Institutes of Health and its partners earned a Deals of Distinction™ award from the Licensing Executive Society (LES) in recognition of the team's contributions to COVID-19 vaccine development, according to a September 28 announcement.
The NIH award was one of two that were directly related to COVID-19 work, and the LES acknowledged that this year's group of awards as a whole represents "a year of unprecedented reliance on intellectual property rights to solve massive global challenges through business collaborations, namely the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19 and its profound disruptions of personal and business lives."
The LES announcement included a President’s Award and three Deals of Distinction™ Awards, along with the Frank Barnes Award. The Deals of Distinction Awards are given each year to recognize major business transactions involving licensing, that exemplify best practices and creativity to achieve strategic business objectives, with a significant impact on advancing innovation in the industry Sectors that comprise LES. Similarly, the Frank Barnes Award is given each year to celebrate an exceptional individual who embodies the highest cultural values of LES by selflessly investing their time and expertise in developing the careers of others – an outstanding mentor.
The President’s Award is periodically given to recognize exceptional licensing activities. This year the awarded is being presented in recognition of an outstanding licensing deal that best represents the unprecedented commitment of the entire global biopharmaceutical community to meeting the existential challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic. LES makes this year’s award to recognize and celebrate the heroic contributions of dealmakers, licensing professionals and intellectual property professionals to expediting the business collaborations that have resulted in the availability of lifesaving vaccines and other disease countermeasures – in months rather than years.
The award recipients were recognized as part of the Society’s 57th Annual Meeting, which for the second consecutive year took place virtually. The Annual Meeting also included sessions featuring some of the award recipients.
“The dynamics that have unfolded over the past year as the result of the global pandemic have demonstrated the full value of intellectual property (IP), innovation, and collaboration to our world. We are proud to celebrate the commitment and creativity of LES members and our colleagues in all of the professions that come together to make a success of R&D, manufacturing, supply, financing, and many other types of deals grounded in patents and other forms of IP. The pandemic has spotlighted the value of deals in expediting the development and delivery globally of novel vaccines and therapeutics against a previously unknown pathogen,” said LES President Gillian Fenton. “LES members should be proud of our contributions to fighting the virus that causes COVID-19.”
The following companies and institutions received awards:
Deal of Distinction™: Industry University Government Interface Sector Winner
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)/National Institutes of Health (NIH), University of Texas – Austin/Dartmouth/The Scripps Research Institute
The path to rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine was cleared by a research collaboration between scientists at the NIH Vaccine Research Center at NIAID, the Scripps Research Institute, Dartmouth College and the University of Texas-Austin. The 2020 nonexclusive license of the stabilized spike protein discovery from that collaboration to BioNTech – with that company’s subsequent partnership with Pfizer producing an mRNA-based vaccine first launched in 2020 administered over 178 million times.
Deal of Distinction™: Life Sciences Sector Winner
Denali Therapeutics and Biogen
Denali Therapeutics and Biogen are recognized for their worldwide collaboration for development of a small molecule LRRK2 inhibitors for treatment of Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders. The partnership represents an opportunity to advance the development of a potential first-in-class oral therapy that may slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease with significant unmet medical needs due to the absence of approved therapies that may slow disease progression
Deal of Distinction™: High Tech Sector Winner
Xperi and Comcast
Xperi and Comcast, both holders of significant intellectual property in the “media” segment, are recognized for their long-term patent license agreement. The “media” segment of technology evolves rapidly, creating uncertainty in the long-term value of intellectual property in the space. The agreement illustrated the awardees’ combined ability to identify and agree on the relative long term value of their respective patent portfolios in view of significant technological disruption and business evolution in the “media” area of technology.
BioNTech and Pfizer
The entire world, including the LES community, has been following the COVID-19 pandemic and its many negative impacts on people’s lives, families, careers, businesses, and global commerce. As licensing professionals, we have risen to the challenge of creating the numerous business-to-business, academia-to-private sector, and government and NGO funding agreements through which all of our industry sectors, notably the Life Sciences Sector, have responded to this existential threat. The President’s Award is made this year to celebrate the Pfizer and BioNTech collaboration and licensing agreement as exemplifying best practices and its unique global impact in our fight against SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Frank Barnes Mentor Award Winner
Mr. Painchaud receives this award in recognition of the help, guidance, and mentorship that he has selflessly offered to countless members of LES and LESI over the years, efforts that, in part, were responsible for the unofficial title he earned, the ‘ dean of pharma licensing.’ “He has been a mentor in the organization for multiple members of LES, including myself,” emphasized Vincent Bergeron, International Chair of the Licensing Executives Society International (LESI)’s YMC Committee. “If it were not for Francois, I might not be involved with LES at all. He had the passion and the patience to act as a mentor for me to join LES, and to really get engaged.”