The overarching goal of this project is to increase the success rate and speed with which the results of basic biomedical research are translated into products that have a positive impact on human health. To do this, we propose to create a commercialization program at the University of Louisville (UofL) with a structure that is designed to overcome the many obstacles that currently impede translation. Though UofL is a relatively small institution in an IDeA state, it has invested in talent and infrastructure for translational research in order to create a pro-entrepreneurial culture. This has already paid dividends and UofL has been awarded numerous major grants, including three current COBRE awards, a Coulter Translational Partnership, the NIH Cardioprotection Consortium, the NIH-UofL RBL (a BSL-3 facility), and multiple P-/U- series grants. Moreover, UofL discoveries have led to interventions that have already benefited patients, such as a first-in- class anticancer drug, a method to prevent transplant rejection, and a protocol that has allowed paraplegic patients to stand again. Many more UofL innovations are now on their way to clinical trials, including new vaccines and minimally invasive devices to detect cancer. The proposed UofL REACH program will be known as the ExCITE Hub to reflect its function as a central resource for Expediting Commercialization, Innovation, Translation, and Entrepreneurship. The hub is designed to fulfill the goals of the FOA (RFA-OD- 14-005), but is tailored to match UofL's specific strengths and needs. In short, the university will supply a robust pipeline of diverse technologies and the infrastructure/expertise required for translational research, whereas the Hub will deliver the necessary funding, education, and access to business expertise to bridge the gap between a great idea and the marketplace. The ExCITE Hub has three major aims: (1) identify the most promising technologies and provide funding for product definition studies, (2) promote commercialization of selected products and transition to a self-sustaining ExCITE program, and (3) expand educational, experiential, and networking opportunities for stakeholders. Our approach includes innovative features: (1) a geographically focused program to expedite operations and maximize impact on the local eco-system, (2) an innovative governance structure to integrate the three main goals and avoid silos, (3) a proactive, rather than passive, approach to education, (4) a mentored technology development grant program that requires early interactions between scientists, tech transfer staff, and industry consultants, and (5) an emphasis on improving academia-industry relationships by increasing mutual understanding, ensuring robust technologies, and being responsive to industry needs. Institutional and regional commitment to the ExCITE Hub is evident from the >$3.1M in matching funds and 40 letters of support. Success in this project will have a major economic impact on the region and will speed the delivery of innovative new products to the patients that need them.
The federal government invests billions of dollars per year in basic research, which has led to great advances in understanding human diseases, but it is difficult to translate these discoveries into new treatments or tests that help patients. This is mainly because university scientists generally do not know how to convert their great ideas into useful products, plus there is relatively little funding for product-driven research. This project will attempt to solve this problem by providing grants for technology development and teaching researchers about business.