[Ip-health] News: SCRIP- IMI Funding rules set to change to benefit SMEs and biotechs

Terri Beswick Terri at haieurope.org
Thu Dec 2 06:48:50 PST 2010

IMI Funding rules set to change to benefit SMEs and biotechs 

30 November 2010 

Elizabeth Sukkar 


The €2 billion European Commission-EFPIA backed Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) will be changing its funding rules to benefit SMEs, biotech firms and universities, after these bodies criticised the IMI's lack of alignment with FP7 rules which had worked against them.


On 14 December, the IMI's governing board is expected to introduce a new cost methodology so that SMEs, biotechs and universities can charge their actual direct and indirect costs in consortia projects they sign up to. "It would be in line with FP7," Magali Poinot, IMI's legal manager, told Scrip.


The changes will only really affect indirect costs, as direct costs are already calculated as "actual": Under the current system the IMI sticks to a flat rate 20% level of reimbursement of indirect costs, while it is 60% in FP7, but now it can be calculated according to "actual costs". 


The IMI will have two funding options in place: the old process will be kept for "some entities that can't identify indirect costs, so they can use the 20% flat rate", she says, and the new process. "It is highly likely that the board will agree to the changes." 


The IMI has also clarified its intellectual property rules, by recently publishing a guidance note. IP rights have been another area of contention, and one in which SMEs which are resource-poor compared to large pharmaceutical firms, often believe they get a bad deal. 


"I think the IP guidance will help them [...] The main reason for it is to provide practical advice to SMEs, universities etc," she says. It will be simpler to understand, so it will be easier to find consensus when discussing IP agreements within project agreements. 


But some biotech firms still believe the rules are too complicated. On this, Ms Poinot says that the IMI would like to be involved in any negotiating process to help them in any agreement with EFPIA partners and others in a consortia project.


"We can't act as legal advisor, because we need to respect all consortia parties. We are a neutral adviser, but acknowledge that SMEs need more help than others because pharmaceutical companies and universities have a lot of IP resources and expertise." 


The IMI had also been criticised for the divergence of its IP policy from that of FP7. Ms Poinot says that the reason for this is because the "objective" of IMI is different to FP7. Under IMI, the research topic is defined by EFPIA partners, dependent on their needs, so that it is a "top-down approach", whereas this is not case for FP7. 


EFPIA partners provide some €1 billion in in-kind contributions to the IMI, which includes expertise, resources, persons to a project, and data. "IMI topics are led and defined by EFPIA partners. That is why in an IMI project EFPIA participants are at the heart of the process."


This Friday, as part of an EFPIA announcement, the IMI said it plans to be more "ambitious" on a scientific basis.


The IMI is also looking at the efficiency of its two stage evaluation consortia process to see whether it has made the "best use of the time we have". 



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