Biomedical entrepreneurship is a field rapidly emerging from academia. Federal funding is continuously committed to support the generation of biomedical small businesses (SBIR and STTR grant mechanisms). Despite the large number of scientists in biomedical research, the number of scientists who are interested in entrepreneurship and are willing to move forward their discoveries to the business world is however very limited. This is in part due to dogma associating entrepreneurship with financial interest instead of associating it with acceleration of health care improvement. Training in innovation and entrepreneurship is currently not accessible to all biomedical research. At the University of Vermont we recently established the SPARK-VT program to support funding for entrepreneurial biomedical research with the goal of improving the process of moving innovative ideas on disease diagnosis, therapy or device from bench to bedside. Within the scope to the Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training (IPERT) R25 FOA from NIGMS the overall goal of this application is to develop an entrepreneurial training program that promotes entrepreneurship in biomedical and clinical research and facilitates the transition of innovative ideas from the bench to bedside and discoveries into the marketplace. This program will be open to graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty from the University of Vermont, but also to institutions from specific IDeA States (Alaska, Puerto Rico, Maine, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire). The program will use a variety of approaches to provide contemporary training in entrepreneurship: 1) to foster skills development in entrepreneurship the program will provide workshops by experts in the field, an intensive course in biomedical entrepreneurship, and small pilot grants for innovative ideas; 2) to foster mentoring the program will provide one-to-one mentoring and internships for biomedical small business; 3) to enhance outreach and dissemination the program will be offered to some of the IDeA states, and participants will be able to attend selected national meetings.
Biomedical entrepreneurship is not longer seen as having conflict with the academic mission. Indeed, it is a rapidly growing area worldwide as a mechanism to make more efficient the translation of innovative ideas from biomedical research into accessible products through commercialization. However, training in innovation and entrepreneurship within academic institutions is very limited. Entrepreneurial culture needs to be cultivated. Studies within NIH have revealed that the number of SBIR/STTR grant applications is drastically lower in most IDeA states. In order to increase the frequency of entrepreneurs and applicants for this federal funding mechanism, an action to promote the coordination between the IDeA program and the SBIR/STTR program was announced at the Section 5168 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. We propose to develop an IPERT training program to promote entrepreneurship in biomedical research that will be centered at the University of Vermont, but outreaching other IDeA states (New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Alaska and Puerto Rico). The main objectives of this training program are: 1) to increase the frequency of entrepreneurs, 2) to facilitate and accelerate the transition of innovative ideas from the bench to the market to the patient, 3) to establish a network between biomedical academic institutions with biomedical small business and promote the submissions of SBIR/STTR grants. Our training program has the potential to directly contribute to job creation and economic growth in the IDeA states.