Three innovative biomed projects were selected as the winners of the Patents Power competition last week organised by the Skolkovo Foundation, the German pharma company Bayer and Rospatent, Russia’s federal intellectual property service.

Finalists and organisers of the Patents Power competition held at Skolkovo Technopark last week. Photo:

The competition was designed to identify biomed projects working in the fields of cancer, cardiovascular disease, ophthalmology and gynaecology that have great potential for securing their intellectual property rights. The first place was awarded to Vladimir Rikhter for a treatment that has been shown to slow the growth of breast and brain tumours, and second place went to Roman Kholodenko for a cancer therapy that attacks tumour cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed. Third place was awarded to Albert Muslimov for technology for creating new medicines for socially significant illnesses using genetic engineering and other technologies.

“The winners were teams that have been working on developing cancer treatments, and furthermore, all the projects are connected to the development of biotech drugs and approaches, such as gene engineering and immune-oncology [using the body’s immune system to fight cancer],” said Kamila Zarubina, acceleration director within Skolkovo’s biomed cluster.

“The winning projects reflect both the latest trends and breakthroughs in cancer treatment,” she added.

All three winners will be awarded grants of 700,000 rubles ($10,000) from Bayer, part of which must be spent on securing their intellectual property rights. Bayer also offers the winners its industry expertise in this area. The three companies can also apply for grants of up to 5 million rubles from the Skolkovo Foundation once they are residents: Kholodenko’s company, Real Target, is already a Skolkovo resident, while the other two winners are expected to obtain residency status in the near future.

Grigory Ivliev, head of Rospatent (left) and Skolkovo's senior vice president for innovations, Kirill Kaem. Photo:

The Patents Power competition saw 44 applications, of which 29 projects made it through to the semi-final, and 10 to the final, in which they pitched their projects to a jury, said Zarubina. Of the 10 finalists, eight were working in the field of cancer treatment, one in cardiovascular disease, and one in ophthalmology: a treatment for glaucoma.

“They are all early-stage projects, and this is why they require support from Skolkovo and from industry,” said Zarubina.

“I’m confident that events like Patents Power make it possible to successfully demonstrate the achievements of Russian startups in the international arena, and are a conduit to the creation of a favourable innovative environment for biomedical challenges,” she said.

For most biomed startups, their product is not a finished medical treatment, but their intellectual property, whose protection is a form of commercialization, Kirill Kaem, senior vice president for innovations at the Skolkovo Foundation, said at the opening of the competition final, which was held during the two-day Patenting School conference at the Skolkovo Technopark last week.

“The intellectual property is what enables them to patent their invention, agree with a manufacturer and bring the treatment out onto the market. One of the aims of our Patenting School is precisely to prepare startups for this most important event,” said Kaem.

Niels Hessmann, general director of Bayer in Russia and the company’s representative in Russia and the CIS. Photo:

Last year, more than half of the 143 foreign patents obtained by Skolkovo were for biomed projects, according to Igor Drozdov, chairman of the board of the Skolkovo Foundation.

“The results of the competition will help Bayer to find interesting projects, which will as a consequence be turned into intellectual property with a high value,” said Drozdov.

“We truly believe in the potential that exists in Russia. That potential is very high,” said Niels Hessmann, general director of Bayer in Russia and the company’s general representative in Russia and the CIS.

“This project of ours will facilitate the development of innovations in Russia and will boost the appearance of new Russian developments on the international market,” he said.

Grigory Ivliev, head of Rospatent, said that the competition’s organisers were “sending us all into the future,” and thanked competition participants – who he noted came from all over Russia – for the humanitarian field of their research.

“If you help to cure humankind from even a few illnesses, they will not forget you,” he told the finalists.