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The US National Institutes of Health is trying out a program to help biomedical researchers become entrepreneurs, ScienceInsider reports.

The Innovation Corps program was begun three years ago by the National Science Foundation based on the Lean LaunchPad course at Stanford University developed by entrepreneur Steve Blank. Through the program, NSF gives research teams money and training to explore commercializing their research.

Stephanie Marrus, director of the entrepreneurship center at the University of California, San Francisco, convinced Blank and the I-Corps team to tweak the program for biomedical researchers, ScienceInsider says. And a pilot program, dubbed the Lean LaunchPad for Life Sciences & Healthcare, launched in October 2013 with some two dozen teams.

A team led by Kei Fujimura, a UCSF postdoc, was interested in starting a company that would sequence the microbiomes of people with Crohn's disease and colitis to help them manage their disease, ScienceInsider notes. Through the program, Fujimura was encouraged to do a bit of market research and speak to potential customers. From this, she realized that prospective clients were "lukewarm" about the idea and that the "technologies weren't advanced enough to really help them."

Still, she and others tell ScienceInsider that it was a good experience. "You do this so that you don't waste millions of dollars and millions of hours of sweat equity," Fujimura says.

The NIH program, ScienceInsider adds, will start with 25 Small Business Innovation Research grantees, rather than bench scientists.