I'm sort of embarrassed that I've never heard of Science Exchange before.
It's been going for over five years, started in the US by a couple of Kiwi founders, and has
grown well beyond start up to having recently secured Series B funding of US$25 million.
In its own words “Science Exchange has become the world’s leading marketplace for scientific research. Through Science Exchange, researchers can securely access a network of 1,000s of screened and verified contract research organizations (CROs), academic labs, and government facilities that are available to conduct scientific experiments.”
The now Palo Alto, Silicon Valley located firm acts as a halfway house between organisations needing science done, and researchers with the specialist knowledge and facilities to do the same. Pharmaceutical companies and US government agencies have been the major users of the connecting service.
Science Exchange not only validates the science providers credentials, it takes care of the paperwork, payment and IP, including dealing across international borders.
It has obviously solved a problem.
NZ satellite office established in Wellington
And now it has established its first satellite office – in New Zealand, operating out of the Wellington Biz Dojo. Not the least reason for the location is Hawkes Bay raised David Iorns, brother of SciEx co-founder Elizabeth Iorns wanting to return home and raise a family.
But New Zealand will be a good test of how SciEx can go about growing – while being ideally located (timezone-wise) between west coat America and Asia.
Along with Matiu Andrew-Cookson, who has an interesting background as a biochemist along with structural planning expertise, SciEx (NZ branch) is looking to show science researchers and facilities here how they can much more easily provide their in-demand expertise to the world.
It should be something that is welcomed with open arms by everyone.
We have expertise, at times under-utilised capacity, specialised knowledge in certain areas, and are reasonably trusted.
Other people are prepared to pay for these outputs – and usually quite handsomely. Science Exchange's cut comes from the buyer of the research – added on top of the negotiated 'doing-science' fee.
It doesn't seem outside the realm of possibility that some science providers could make some serious coin by being the outsourced component of someone else's needs.
There's already private companies such as Trinity Bioactives who make biological products for overseas customers, and has been an accredited Science Exchange research provider for a few months. Others such as the Cawthron Institute, Hill Laboratories, P3 Research and NZ Genomics are, presumably, partners-in-waiting.
The Crown Research Institutes and universities must also have spare capacity. It is quite easy to envisage that such overseas derived contracts could help underwrite original NZ research.
But, there may be downsides that I haven't thought of.
Can anyone else think of how the presence of Science Exchange could be detrimental to NZ?
(There's completely different written material from Peter Kerr at):
- Punchline - Messages that Matter (specialising in business's first, most important message [tagline]
- What I Wish My Dad Told Me - advice and bits of accumulated wisdom