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NIH, NSF Team to Help Biomedical Startups Translate Technologies to Market

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health has partnered with the National Science Foundation to provide NIH-funded small businesses and researchers training to help them advance their technologies and innovations to commercial launch, the agencies said today.

A pilot project of the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps), the new I-Corps at NIH program will provide training for researchers and entrepreneurs who have received Phase I Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer awards from NIH.

"I-Corps will help teach NIH-funded start-ups how to build scalable business models around new technologies they're developing for the detection and treatment of disease," Michael Weingarten, director of the National Cancer Institute's SBIR Development Center, said in a statement. "The program sheds new light on how companies can deal with important business risks such as protecting intellectual property and developing regulatory and reimbursement strategies."

The program's curriculum includes a nine-week "boot camp" at NIH led by "business-savvy instructors" with biomedical business experience who will work with researchers to help them explore markets for their products, and it is built around a "hypothesis-validation" approach to finding customers, NIH and NSF said. NIH also will provide real-time interactions with more than 100 potential customers to help the startups validate the market potential for their technology.

"Translating basic biomedical research to the marketplace has its own particular set of challenges, which we recognize," added NSF Assistant Director for Engineering Pramod Khargonekar. "By focusing and adapting the I-Corps curriculum to the life sciences, we expect biomedical researchers will be better equipped to enter the business arena."

NIH plans to select 24 teams for the pilot program and will provide them supplemental funding to support entrepreneurial training, mentorship, and collaborations.

Four NIH institutes will join the pilot program, including NCI, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

More than 300 three-person teams have completed NSF's I-Corps Teams training program so far.

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