Partnership between academia and industry has long been on the agenda of EU institutions, and has been operationalized through the European Economic Recovery Plan of 2008. In February 2011, the European Commission published its Green Paper, Towards a Common Strategic Framework for European Research and Innovation Funding, where the need to involve industries has been stressed. This concern will also be a key issue in the Horizon 2020 strategy as outlined in the proposal for a Regulation made by the European Parliament and by The Council. In this context Horizon 2020 should aim to attract the strong participation of universities, research centers, industry and specifically SMEs and be opened to new participants, as it brings together the full range of research and innovation support in one common strategic framework, including a streamlined set of forms of support and uses rules for participation with principles applicable to all actions under the program.
Public Private Partnership (PPP) is also part of several research policies put in place by the Commission in order to apply the same tools to both private companies and public academia. In the era of innovative therapies, the Regulation (EC) n°1394/2007 on advanced therapy medicinal products focuses on the procedure of certification to enhance collaboration between SMEs (which most of the time come from academia in the field of cells) and big pharmaceutical industries.
The certification is non-legally binding and delivered by the EMA to certify the quality and, where available, non-clinical data of advanced therapy medicinal products (legal category that includes cell therapy medicinal products) developed by SMEs. Although this procedure has been established primarily for SMEs, it may also be used by academia.
In addition some European researchers have proposed to implement the PPP into concrete actions for example in fostering the adoption of common tools between academia and industries to allow the sharing of human biological samples. One example to promote PPP is the concept of “Expert centers” developed during the preparatory phase of BBMRI (Wichmann et al, 2011) where “Its principle is to transform the material into data and knowledge that can be easily shared, a goal that makes advanced solutions for data management essential”. This proposal is one solution to overcome the barriers to share research materials between various partners (whatever they are public or private) as the idea is to share data rather than to share the human biological material. The assumption then is that, this data-sharing is entering under the scope of the Data protection directive (Directive 95/46/EC) which facilitates such exchanges.