EMBL and Leica sign open innovation agreement

Edith Heard (EMBL) and Markus Lusser (Leica, President) sign the cooperation agreement. Image: Massimo Del Prete/EMBL

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Leica Microsystems and EMBL have signed a unique long-term framework collaboration agreement to provide new imaging technologies. The agreement is the first to promote a new open innovation concept between industry and EMBL.

EMBL often cooperates with industry partners, and has cooperated successfully with Leica for many years. Based on this strong partnership, Leica is among the companies supporting the upcoming EMBL Imaging Centre, which is currently under construction at the EMBL campus in Heidelberg, Germany.

The signed framework agreement, which was negotiated and concluded by EMBLEM – EMBL’s wholly-owned commercial technology transfer subsidiary – allows for a broad and long-term partnership. Within one agreement, all administrative, legal and intellectual property regulations for individual projects are already signed off. This way, future technology projects between EMBL and Leica can simply be added into the existing framework.

The newly established framework is part of an open innovation concept from Leica in which research and development of new technologies is done in close collaboration between academic research and companies. In this way, users can test new technologies for applications in their research much earlier and companies can feed these experiences back into their technology development, to make sure new products deliver what users need to accomplish their research goals.

“The new collaboration will create a win-win situation and intensify our proven cooperation with EMBL,” says Markus Lusser, president of Leica Microsystems. “The direct exchange of developers and researchers will pave the way for breakthrough applications. Ones that confirm their relevance for state-of-the-art scientific research right from the start. We look forward to seeing how the fruits of this collaboration can benefit scientific progress in the near future.”

The framework agreement allows an even stronger interlinking between the early stages of new technology development and forefront scientific work. This will allow faster availability of new technologies for research, leading to a better outcome on both sides. The cooperation also fits the cornerstones of EMBL’s missions, as it means scientists and visitors will be trained using the most modern facilities, and it will support the development of new instruments and methods, and active engagement in technology transfer.

“We are very happy that Leica Microsystems is our first partner for this new cooperation concept,” says Jan Ellenberg, Unit Head and Coordinator of the new Imaging Centre at EMBL. “We are looking forward to bringing exciting new imaging technologies to researchers quickly, and to improving them further by exposing them early to cutting edge research questions. I hope that such an open innovation model will also be used by our other industrial partners in the EMBL Imaging Centre in the future.“

Today representatives from EMBL and Leica signed the final agreement at EMBL Heidelberg, on the construction site where the EMBL Imaging Centre is rapidly taking shape. Through the agreement, the EMBL Imaging Centre will house cutting edge microscope equipment from Leica, which will be supported by Leica engineers to support the users of the EMBL Imaging Centre in their research. As such, the new agreement will significantly increase the training and research possibilities of the Imaging Centre.

Representatives from EBML and Leica at the construction site of the EMBL Imaging Centre.
Image: Massimo Del Prete/EMBL

The EMBL Imaging Centre is scheduled to open in mid-2021. It will host up to 300 visiting scientists per year, giving them access to the very latest imaging technologies.