The Sophia-Antipolis based start-up VenomeTech was once again selected for the 2011 "France-China COOPOL Innovation", a cooperation program between French and Chinese competitiveness clusters and the French technology park.
This program sets up meetings, organized and supported financially by the French Embassy in China scientific department. It is designed to provide innovative SMEs, in association with an academic research partner, with the opportunity to take part in a mission to identify and evaluate cooperation partners among French and Chinese stakeholders in R&D projects throughout China.
The COOPOL Innovation program enjoys strong support from the TORCH center (an agency acting under the control of MOST that is responsible for the management of technology parks in China), the administrative committees of Chinese science parks and the Science and Technology Commissions of cities visited.
Five of the nine projects submitted in 2011 were chosen and the themes put forward were very varied, with a strong accent on life sciences. The THERAPEP project managed by VenomeTech and supported by the Eurobiomed competitiveness cluster, concerns venom peptides as innovative therapeutic agents. The week-long mission, led by VenomeTech CEO, P. Escoubas, and CEA (French Atomic Energy Agency) Saclay researcher, N. Gilles, enabled meetings with numerous Chinese stakeholders in VenomeTech's field of activity. Visits to academic laboratories, traditional Chinese medicine research institutes, service providers and meetings with institutional stakeholders in Franco-Chinese cooperation in Changsha, Shanghai and Beijing strengthened existing contacts and enabled the development of new partnerships.
The assignment was a great success and several partnerships and collaborative research initiatives were set up on return to France. Follow-up to the mission will enable the organization of longer term exchanges, notably visits from Chinese students to the company in Sophia Antipolis and CEA laboratories. Interestingly, the mission revealed a strong potential for collaboration in the use of natural substances, particularly animal proteins with therapeutic properties, VenomeTech's area of expertise. The Chinese pharmaceutical industry is particularly aware of the value of very commonly used traditional medicines, the potential of which is yet to be explored on a molecular level. Moreover the mission highlighted the dynamism of the life and health sciences sector in China, an area of massive current investment by the Chinese government and offering extensive collaboration opportunities.
With the support of the scientific department at the French Embassy in Beijing, the COOPOL mission was a great success for VenomeTech, strengthening its R&D potential and giving it new international development prospects. A second mission is already under preparation to pursue this line of development.