CARB-X announced its international expansion and added four new European partners to its AMR accelerator network. (You'll find more information here) We spoke with Kevin Outterson, Executive Director of CARB-X and a speaker at AMR Conference 2019, about the reasons, his expectations and his view on the European AMR innovation landscape.
Why do you think it’s necessary to massively expand the CARB-X network towards Europe and to go beyond the already established relationship with Wellcome Trust in UK?
"We are expanding the accelerator network because our portfolio is much larger than originally anticipated and we need to grow, both geographically and in depth of resources."
How did you choose the selected locations? Which criteria played a major role?
"We ran a global RFP process since last February. The new accelerators were selected through that process. We were looking to add more depth in technologies and geographic reach to the network."
What do you expect in the next 2-3 years as an outcome of the network expansion?
"We provide financial grants but also networked support in scientific and business issues. This is a pre-paid buffet for the companies powered by CARB-X. The best outcome would be more successful companies moving forward towards the market, with highly innovative antibacterial products."
How do you perceive the European AMR innovation landscape compared to the US? Do you see specific strengths and weaknesses?
"US universities are eager to spin out successful technologies to startups, often with the participation of the PI and their post docs. That is now an entrenched part of US university culture. European universities and research institutes are advancing amazing science, but some don’t have the same drive to commercialize. But CARB-X is very pleased with the quality and quantity of applicants from Europe, as you can see from our current and upcoming funding announcements. From your perspective, what needs to be done by the EU commission to improve the AMR innovation conditions? Collectively, we have so few resources compared to the AMR problem before us, so all stakeholders in AMR must collaborate and avoid redundancy. JPIAMR coordinates national research budgets in AMR, which is important. The IMI funding model depends on large company support, but going forward, it appears that most of the large companies have not chosen to participate in new IMI projects focused on Gram-negative bacteria, at least from the Pillar A, B and C proposals that have been released publicly. CARB-X stands ready to assist the proposed accelerator to help it succeed. Indeed, CARB-X will collaborate with any antibacterial project supported by IMI or other key stakeholders in Europe. We are in this together."
By Sandra Wirsching, Managing Editor, BIOCOM AG