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The developer of pharmaceutical innovations in the world of patents


May 17, 2018

Gustav Boije af Gennäs, 40, made the switch from academia to Kolster while continuing his research work. He hopes for more active patenting efforts by universities in order to better utilise research to its fullest potential.

Acquainted with IP rights from a young age

One childhood memory is the time when my father, an entrepreneur, had acquired a design right. A Finnish inventor had protected their innovative product, and my father purchased its design rights. I was so excited about the event that it left a lasting impression. I forgot intellectual property rights for years until crossing paths again during my academic career and in my current work at Kolster.

Tools for the treatment of cancer and malaria

My areas of expertise are chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry and biological sciences, and my work at Kolster involves patents in these fields. While working as a patent agent, I will also continue for a time as the group leader of two research projects at the University of Helsinki, as well as a supervisor for several doctoral students. One of my research groups is a Key project funded by the Academy of Finland to develop bioanalytical microchips. Once functional, the microchip will revolutionise the treatment of cancer. In the other project, my research group is designing molecules to aid in the development of new antimalarial medication. I have also developed drug candidates for neurological diseases and cancer. In addition, I participated in developing the world’s first 3D-printed microchip, which enabled the performance of chemical reactions and analyses using a single microchip.

Two patented inventions

During my career of twenty years at the university, I have patented two inventions. One of the patents has since expired, while the other is just a year old. It is related to the compounds developed in the large-scale 3i project, which we were able to use to induce new heart cells. This way, orally administered drugs would enable the heart and brain to regenerate new cells from stem cells to replace those destroyed in a myocardial infarction, for example. The procedure would revolutionise the treatment of cardiac muscle damage and cerebral diseases.

A first-row seat to innovations

A particularly interesting aspect of my work at Kolster is the opportunity to be among the first to see new developments in my field. By working with new inventions each day, I am able to orient myself firmly in the future. I am easily excited over new things and developing them further. Although I am a researcher at heart and enjoy analysing matters, I am not one to isolate myself in my chambers. At Kolster, I look eagerly forward to working with clients! I am certain that my long career as a researcher can help provide added value to clients and create sound IP strategies.

Reworking university practices

Universities and institutes of higher education function at the source of innovations, but too often, research results remain merely as words in a publication. If I were to invent the best cancer medication in the world and publicise my work in a scientific journal, pharmaceutical companies are no longer able to patent the drug. This, in turn, means that the medication will likely never reach the market. It is crucial that universities become more active in the patenting and commercial utilisation of their research results. Although the main duties of universities are teaching and basic research, they must also serve society and the world as a whole. In this task, intellectual property rights hold a key role. It is my hope that Finnish researchers will increasingly found their own companies. The field of pharmaceuticals has some splendid success stories, and I am aware of a number of exciting new companies emerging in the field in the coming years.

Fixing the lack of awareness of IP

The intellectual property rights sector must itself also undergo change. I am excited about the changes taking place at Kolster, as well as the new possibilities we will be able to offer clients. The IP sector is needed today more than ever, but public awareness of it is lacking. Information on IP matters must be disseminated, and this is also one of my tasks. If you are introducing your product on the market without a patent or other form of protection, your rights may slip to others. In the worst case, you may be required to pay compensation to competitors for your own product.

Learning a new field

My leap over to the world of IP rights is a natural continuation of my research work, and at Kolster, I have an excellent opportunity to learn a new field. I am learning a great deal from my team and other experts. Currently, I am attending the so-called long course in patenting matters and set to complete my patent attorney certification next spring.

Helping clients with my experience

My characteristic approach to my work consists of a combination of scientific and patenting issues. In assisting our clients, I am able to utilise my broad, interdisciplinary experience in the fields of pharmaceutical chemistry, organic and analytic chemistry and biochemistry, as well as my extensive background in research. In cooperation with clients, we will plan a sound patent strategy and utilise inventions to their fullest and most diverse extent.

Not without its surprises

Gustav Boije af GennäsAt the moment, my tasks include the preparing of novelty searches and translations of patents in Finnish, Swedish and English. When a client wants to protect their invention with a patent, we investigate whether the product is novel. I investigate the matter through various sources, such as patent databases. The work involves a great deal of research, and it is not without its surprises. For example, a few weeks ago I was contacted by an old colleague concerning one of their inventions. Another surprise was when my own brother received a Business Finland innovation voucher and asked me to assess the patentability of his new product. You could therefore say that my interest in patents runs in the family.


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