While most panel discussions at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s international convention tend to be heavy on jargon and light on urgency, a conversation on Tuesday about the growing threat foreign influences pose to the industry’s trade secrets could not have been more direct.
“It’s really easy to wake up one morning and realize that you might actually be an industrial spy for a foreign government,” said Allen Phelps, CEO of IPTalons, a research security service provider. “Despite what you see in the movies, it is not somebody walking in and saying, ‘Do you want to spy for me?’ It is, ‘Let’s start a company together.’”
Phelps joined experts from the federal government and academia on a panel that delivered a clear-cut message to the industry: Foreign influences pose a significant, growing threat to the early-stage work that goes into developing new treatments, diagnostics, and devices. It’s a topic that has garnered increasing attention in recent years, and one that has raised thorny questions about the balance between conducting open, collaborative science and protecting intellectual property.