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Innovation is an integral part of our work and strategy. And it’s reflected in more than just the solutions we offer. Innovation is at the core of our research and development competencies, and at the heart of our global network of Open Innovation. It’s also innovation that inspires us to take on some of the most pressing global challenges of our time.
Leaps by Bayer
Leaps by Bayer is spearheading a movement to make paradigm-shifting advances in the Life Sciences – targeting the breakthroughs that could fundamentally change the world for the better. Across health care and agriculture, Leaps by Bayer is aiming to conquer ten huge challenges facing humanity.
The scale of this mission requires an entirely new approach that goes beyond the conventional limits of the health care and agriculture industries. It requires enormous investment, risk and collaboration. As such, we are investing heavily in a few key areas, collaborating with the world’s smartest minds in biotech, and are actively helping to build up young biotech companies.
Bayer AG and Versant Ventures announced the launch of BlueRock Therapeutics, a next-generation regenerative medicine company developing best-in-class induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) therapies with the objective of treating a range of diseases using an industry-leading platform. Bayer and Versant jointly committed $225 million US, representing one of the largest-ever series A financings for a biotech company.
In Canada, BlueRock is focused on regenerating heart muscle for patients who have had a heart attack (myocardial infarction or MI) or suffering from chronic heart failure.
Open Innovation Programs
Bayer’s Open Innovation approach includes a number of successful crowdsourcing and co-working initiatives. Together with bright minds outside of Bayer, we join forces to develop new therapeutic options for the benefit of patients and generate ideas in new crop protection.
Grants4Targets was introduced in 2009 and marks the first crowdsourcing program at Bayer. Further initiatives of this kind have been established since then.
In the context of Open Innovation, Bayer offers grants for scientists from universities, academic research institutes and start-up companies, or to health-IT developers to support specific projects. The participants are supported through funding and they can benefit, depending on the program, from work accommodations and the expertise of Bayer researchers in life sciences.
The following are Open Innovation initiatives that include a Canadian program or have had a Canadian submission.
Grants4Apps Toronto is an Open Innovation program that fosters and supports digital health technology in Canada. In 2017, Bayer announced the three winners for the Grants4Apps program, each of whom received $10,000 in funding as well as office space for 88 days at Bayer Canada’s headquarters where representatives from senior management offered them top-level mentoring to develop their innovations. The three finalists were:
Avro Life Science, which is developing a preclinical-stage, over-the-counter, medicated skin patch designed to deliver seasonal allergy medicine.
Mozzaz Patient Engagement For Complex Care, which is developing an app that collects quantitative and qualitative data in active and passive sources for data correlation and predictive analytics.
Helpwear Technologies Inc., which is developing a wrist-based device that uses proprietary ECG technology to detect minor and major heart events, automating emergency response and allowing doctors to monitor patients at home. It is currently being investigated in clinical trials.
Grants4Targets are crowdsourcing programs run by the Pharmaceuticals and Crop Science divisions of Bayer. The global Pharmaceuticals research grant program supports research on novel drug targets for applications in Bayer’s focus areas – oncology, gynecology, cardiology (including kidney diseases) and hemophilia – through funding and through expertise and technologies in drug discovery.
The aim of Grants4Targets Crop Science is to assist young researchers developing ideas for new crop protection. Researchers who have been awarded grants through the program have lauded the quick access to funding, opportunities to engage in joint research with Bayer, and the availability of searching and validation tools.
Agriculture needs new solutions as crops worldwide are facing increasing pressure from weeds, insects, diseases and unfavourable climate conditions.
With its Open Innovation program, Grants4Traits, Bayer now supports novel ideas that will lead to innovative commercial-seed products. Researchers at universities, other scientific institutions or start-up companies all over the world working on traits that will help achieve higher yield, quality and safety in crops are encouraged to participate in Bayer’s new program.
The Grants4Indications crowdsourcing initiative is a web-based platform to submit ideas on a specific non-clinical or clinical research project to evaluate a Bayer compound and potentially discover a new therapy for patients. If successful in the first stage, the applicant will be invited to send a full study proposal on the intended research and will receive a grant for this purpose. If successful in the next stage, the applicant can receive further funding to conduct the study under an Investigator-Initiated Research (IIR) agreement.
With the web-based PartnerYourAntibodies crowdsourcing initiative, the Pharmaceuticals division is looking for novel antibodies relating particularly to the fields of oncology, cardiology (including kidney diseases), hematology, ophthalmology, as well as gynecology, and addressing a specific target or pathway in a selective manner (functional activity). Successful online applications will be assessed by Bayer with regard to bioactivity. If confirmed, Bayer may initiate a joint antibody-exploration project with the applicant, in which substantial financial funding is paid to compensate for research expenses.
Bayer on Campus
Bayer on Campus (BoC) is an initiative that aims to increase awareness of the breadth of Bayer’s innovation. It also serves to identify and foster opportunities for research collaborations with scientific and community stakeholders, and presents Bayer as a preferred choice for prospective employees by emphasizing the unique workplace culture and career opportunities.
Bayer representatives visit campuses across Canada to give presentations about Bayer and to host one-on-one meetings with researchers. In the program’s first year, Bayer Canada led the pilot phase for the campus tours, with visits to University of Manitoba, McGill University, Queens University, Olds College and the University of Calgary. Overall, a total of nine presentations were delivered to five campuses.
With very positive feedback from campus hosts, audience members and BoC participants, the initiative continues with more school visits planned.