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LEO Pharma launches Open Innovation program and partnership with the University of Victoria in Canada

BALLERUP, Denmark, Nov. 19, 2019 - LEO Pharma A/S, a global leader in medical dermatology, today announced the launch of Open Innovation in British Columbia, Canada, in partnership with the University of Victoria (UVic).

The partnership includes sharing of traditionally confidential and proprietary research data and capabilities to involve UVic and students directly with innovative and clinically relevant research. Students can design and create novel molecules to be tested in LEO Pharma Open Innovation, a collaborative space created to explore the latest research and potential partnerships by using disease-relevant in-vitro assays with the goal to find next-generation treatments for skin diseases, such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.

Open Innovation allows any organization insights and access to LEO Pharma's unique research tools to test their molecules for disease-relevant effects, but without the obligation for a partner to disclose confidential information (such as molecular structure) or to license intellectual property to LEO Pharma. The classic corporate research collaboration usually follows a closed process, focuses only on business benefits and limits the partners’ continued opportunities.

This fall, LEO Pharma provided UVic chemistry students the capability to develop and send molecules for testing in the Open Innovation program, as part of an academic course. The university accesses LEO Pharma’s unique bio-activity tests to screen small molecule compounds, and the course brings training opportunities to medicinal chemistry students.

For UVic, the project serves two goals: it focuses on global partnerships as a way to enhance innovation and create new research opportunities and knowledge mobilization, and it provides students with valuable training, said Jeremy Wulff, UVic chemistry professor and project lead.

“Students get a hands-on chance to create and test molecules to find next-generation treatments for skin diseases like psoriasis and eczema,” said Wulff. “They also get to learn how a global, pharmaceutical company operates, which gives them an integrated, dynamic learning opportunity while studying at UVic.”

LEO Pharma hopes to set a new standard for collaborations and hopes others in the industry will follow, said Niclas Nilsson, Head of Open Innovation, LEO Pharma A/S.

“By openly disclosing assays offered and areas of corporate interests, LEO Pharma’s hope is that someone will have a novel resource, piece of information or an idea toward a potential solution for dermatology patients,” said Nilsson.

The launch is being announced today as part of an Open Innovation: Collaborative Partnerships seminar with participation of the Hon. Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology; Jeppe Fredslund, Head of Trade, Danish Trade Council; Nilsson; Kristian Fick, President, LEO Pharma Canada; Wendy Hurlburt, President and CEO, LifeSciences BC, and representatives from UVic and Danish Trade Council.

This is a commendable initiative of collaboration that will help support the continued growth of B.C.’s life sciences sector and drive our innovation economy even further. More importantly, this partnership brings with it great opportunity to advance research that has the potential to benefit people around the world.
Hon. Bruce Ralston
Minister of Jobs,
Trade and Technology
This collaboration further supports a provincial ecosystem in which life sciences and health technology organizations thrive. The mission of LifeSciences BC is to catalyze the growth of the life sciences community in our province, and we look forward to what LEO Pharma Open Innovation can bring to our region in the areas of potential discoveries in dermatology.
LEO Pharma is committed to bringing innovative solutions to patients in Canada, as well as advancing life sciences through investments in clinical trials across Canada, including within British Columbia. We hope to fuel innovation in medical dermatology and help others see the value of public-private partnerships.

UVic is one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities, offering life-changing, hands-on learning experiences to more than 21,000 students on the edge of the spectacular BC coast. As a hub of transformational research, UVic faculty, staff and students make a critical difference on issues that matter to people, places and the planet. UVic consistently publishes a higher proportion of research based on international collaborations than any other university in North America, and our community and organizational partnerships play a key role in generating vital impact, from scientific and business breakthroughs to achievements in culture and creativity.
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Find additional information on the LEO Pharma Open Innovation website.

About LEO Pharma

LEO Pharma is a global company dedicated to advancing the standard of care for the benefit of people with skin conditions, their families and society. Founded in 1908 and majority owned by the LEO Foundation, LEO Pharma has devoted decades of research and development to advance the science of dermatology, and today, the company offers a wide range of therapies for all disease severities. LEO Pharma is headquartered in Denmark with a global team of 4,200 people, serving millions of patients across the world. In 2023, the company generated net sales of DKK 11.4 billion


Henrik Heskjaer

Director, Global External Communications
Tel: +45 3140 6180

Rhonda Sciarra

Global External Communication
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