Technology Innovation Program: Enhancing Biotech Translational Research among NE Ohio Institutions Case Western Reserve University Case School of Engineering PI: Jeffrey Duerk Co PIs: Alexis Abramson, Patrick Crago, Norman Tien, Kelley Zelesnik NSF Award #IIP- 0917940 Brief Project Overview: This Partnership for Innovation (PFI) project is collaboratively engaging Lorain County Community College (LCCC), JumpStart TechLift Advisors and the lead institution, Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) to foster the translation of bio- and healthcare technology research into commercial products. The PFI links faculty members, students and the business community with different but complementary skill sets, bringing the discovery process of the university together with the workforce development mission of a community college and aligning institutional activities with regional economic development needs. Our approach consists of applying a disciplined commercial innovation process to a variety of innovation projects, each funded at a level of $5,000-$40,000 plus “business expenses,” and each originating from CWRU research. Program Activities: • An Oversight Board (OB) comprised of a mix of academic and business members was assembled in year one. The OB defined metrics of success and developed the RFP. The OB along with relationship managers help assemble the innovation teams and oversee the overall PFI. Relationship managers act as a liaison between students and projects and provide additional support to the program. • Innovation project timeline (round 1 of 2): • Request for proposals (RFP) released March 15, 2010 • Business coaching phase (for faculty): March 15 – May 31 • RFP closes: June 1 • Due diligence phase: June 1 – July 1 • Advisement phase: July 1 – July 31; innovation team and work plan finalized • Project launch date: August1; innovation teams attend an “IP 101” session • Engagement phase: August 1, 2010 – July 31, 2011 • Advancement phase: August 1, 2011; final report addressing next steps and follow-on funding plans due 3 Year Award Start Date: 1 August 2009 Key Attributes of our Innovation Ecosystem: Innovation Team Case Western Reserve “CTO” University Lorain County “Product Community Specialists” College “Director of “COO” “Director of Engineering” Marketing” “Staff” “Staff” “CEO” Questioning and curiosity are drivers of the innovation process and are at the root of each funded innovation project. A CWRU faculty member begins this process with a proposed project and associated questions, and later an innovation team is assembled to pose new questions and investigate completely. Throughout the project, questions are answered, but new questions are continuously posed. Risk Taking: Jumpstart Techlift Advisors Each funded project will involve an innovation team that will function like a “mini company.” Each innovation project is a “high risk/high reward” type endeavor. Therefore, we expect failure and success. Nonetheless, this PFI program will be helping to foster an innovation culture at the educational institutions involved, thereby furthering the goal towards enhancing technology commercialization and entrepreneurial activities in the region overall. Openness: Top Contributions: 1. Brings together business-minded students and professionals with science/technologyminded faculty interested in technology commercialization. 2. Provides a mechanism to deliberately partner a research university, a community college and a tech-based economic development organization whilst maintaining their respective cultures. 3. Is a model to which others in NE Ohio are looking to further stimulate technology commercialization in the region. Top Challenges: 1. Fostering an innovation culture at a research university can be met with challenges by more conventionally-minded individuals. 2. Bridging the very different community college and research university cultures requires diligence to ensure that both are represented appropriately in the innovation process. 3. To truly have an impact on technology innovation, additional funding is required. Main partners: • Case Western Reserve University (www.case.edu) • Lorain County Community College (www.lorainccc.edu) • JumpLift Techlift Advisors (www.jumpstartinc.org) Additional partners: • NorTech (www.nortech.org) • GLIDE (Great Lakes Innovation and Development (www.glideit.org) • Additional business leaders in NE Ohio and beyond This PFI program is open to interested CWRU faculty who wish to serve as PIs on an innovation project associated with their research although there is a competitive award process involved. The innovation teams comprise a myriad of different people including undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and professionals who can contribute to the specified innovation project. The innovation teams are maintained at a reasonable size to avoid management complexities. Collaboration Across Fields: Each innovation project must focus on a technology related to the biotech/healthcare fields however research emanating from any of the science or engineering disciplines with biotech/healthcare relevance qualify. The cornerstone of this PFI is to bring together the science/technology with business and marketing, thereby exposing science-minded students and faculty to the business world and business-minded people to technology. This is a unique opportunity for all involved. Placing Partners in “New Environments” & “Playgrounds”: Partners: PFI Questioning & Curiosity: Our general hypothesis underlying the PFI program is that an investment in the partnership among the constituents will enhance innovation in NE Ohio. By exposing each partner to the others’ “playgrounds,” we make resources available that would have otherwise been overlooked. For example, the manufacturing facilities available at LCCC may make the simple creation of a prototype device emanating from CWRU research possible. Alternatively, exposing a venture capital partner to the research at CWRU by involving him/her on an innovation team may lead to future untapped opportunities. Leading/Inspiring for Surprising or Unexpected Results There are an impressive number of CWRU faculty interested in pursuing the PFI innovation project opportunities. They want to learn more about technology commercialization and entrepreneurship and want to explore the potential for commercial development of their research. Enterprise) . National Science Foundation Partnerships For Innovation Grantee’s Meeting April 25-27, 2010 Arlington, VA . .