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VBI Launches Industrial Affiliates Program to Bridge Industry and University Research Gap

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The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute this week launched an Industrial Affiliates Program that is designed to facilitate cooperative relationships and partnerships between VBI's researchers and their colleagues in commercial entities.

The program will offer platinum and gold memberships to interested companies. VBI plans to use to funds from its industry partners to advance the institute's research efforts in network dynamics, simulation science, and policy informatics; cyberinfrastructure; biosystems; and medical informatics and systems.

For a donation of $25,000 yearly, gold membership partners receive access to VBI's non-proprietary information, attend on-site events, visit research facilities and engage in discussions with faculty and students, and make suggestions to the institute's Research Advisory Panel.

Platinum partners, who contribute $50,000 per year, will have early licensing access to intellectual property generated by VBI researchers prior to public disclosure and a seat on the advisory panel, in addition to the benefits accorded to gold members.

Skip Garner, VBI's executive director, said that the program will help the institute "target opportunities, tune our commercial translation process, and move our research advances and inventions from the notebook or publication to valuable intellectual property." He noted that the program will be a "key element" of his goal "to obtain funding to support commercialization and entrepreneurial programs" at VBI.

Garner took over as executive director of VBI in October last year. Soon after his appointment, he told BioInform that commercialization of bioinformatics resources was "good for the community" and that in the last few years, universities were beginning to see the "value" of their intellectual property (BI 1/4/2010).

He also said that he planned to help researchers at VBI with "entrepreneurial desires" and tools that are "worthy of commercializing" to get their products on the market.

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