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UofL, partners form new regional accelerator hub for biomedical technologies

December 3, 2018
The hub is backed by a federal grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The University of Louisville, along with partners from academia and industry across the Southeast, is creating a new accelerator hub aimed at getting new biomedical technologies to market faster.

The hub is backed by a federal grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is potentially valued at a total of $3.5 million over three years, with nearly $500,000 in funding the first year.

“At the University of Louisville, we firmly believe that we can solve the problems that plague our region through collaboration,” said UofL President, Dr. Neeli Bendapudi. “This partnership with the private sector and an impressive consortium of area academic institutions will help speed groundbreaking advances in health care technology to the market, resulting in healthier citizens and a stronger economy.”

Leading the grant is XLerateHealth, LLC, a Louisville-based healthcare technology accelerator that focuses on startups and commercialization. The hub also joins 24 academic institutions led by UofL, the University of Kentucky and West Virginia University.

Together, they will create an “accelerator hub” — one of four funded by NIGMS — for biomedical technologies in the Southeast Institutional Development Award (IDeA) region, which includes Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and West Virginia.

As part of the hub, the grant partners will create online education, resources and tools for commercialization that all the participating institutions can use. There will also be focused intellectual property and technology transfer support to assist where those services are not currently available.

“We are grateful to the NIH to have entrusted our team with this grant so that we can move scientific discoveries out of the lab and into commercial products, ultimately improving patient care and enhancing human health,” said Jackie Willmot, co-founder and CEO of XLerateHealth. “Our hub will provide researchers and innovators with entrepreneurial knowledge and skills that will enable them to create and commercialize successful, sustainable businesses.”

According to Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM)’s 2016 Annual Survey, academic institutions in the Southeast IDeA region performed more than $1.5 billion in federally-funded research and generated 38 startup companies. The institutions participating in this grant made up 66 percent of that research and 82 percent of the region’s newly licensed startup companies.

UofL, for example, has developed a robust translational research, commercialization and entrepreneurship infrastructure. It is the only research university in the country to receive four prestigious translational research programs: Innovation Corps (I-Corps) and AWARE: ACCESS through the National Science Foundation, REACH/ExCITE through NIH, and the Wallace H. Coulter Translational Partnership.

“The partners on this grant have had great success with commercialization, providing startup support and implementing other programs for translational research,” said Dr. Robert S. Keynton, UofL’s Interim Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation and a principal investigator on the grant. “By expanding multi-state, multi-institutional access to those resources, we believe we can have a big national impact.”

Check out video from today’s press conference announcing the Regional Biomedical Technology Accelerator Hub: