U of M Selected as Hub for NIH Program to Accelerate New Inventions to the Market

The University of Minnesota has been selected by the National Institutes of Health as one of three Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hub (REACH) sites nationally to establish a university-wide strategic framework promoting commercialization and technology transfer in the life sciences and biomedical technology.

Supported by a $3 million NIH grant with another $3 million in matching U of M funds, the U’s MINREACH program will provide commercial expertise and resources needed for the development and commercialization of diagnostics, therapeutics, preventive medicine and medical devices. Vadim Gurvich, associate director of the college’s Institute for Therapeutics Discovery and Development, will co-lead the pharmaceutical side of the program.

The program will establish new industry partnerships, strengthen existing partnerships, and provide entrepreneurial, commercial-style education for innovators to accelerate the pace at which innovations reach the marketplace. It will fund between 10-20 research projects a year. Under the program, workshops and industry mentors will coach faculty in key aspects of commercialization, including subjects like competition, venture capital and market assessment. Meanwhile, the program will identify and address barriers in the academic environment that may hinder commercialization.

MIN-REACH builds upon several existing, nationallyrecognized programs at the U designed to advance sponsored research and technology commercialization, including Minnesota Innovation Partnerships (MNIP), Discovery Capital and MINCorps, an NSF-funded program that promotes student entrepreneurship in science and engineering. MIN-REACH will also build upon Minnesota’s long history of success in medical innovation, as the state is home to the top 17 publicly traded medical device companies in the U.S. At the U of M, medical innovations are among the most prominent inventions of the U’s commercialization portfolio.

Other U of M principal investigators include Charles Muscoplat, adjunct professor of medicine and professor of food science and nutrition; Allison Hubel, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the U’s Biopreservation Core Resource; Bin He, professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Institute for Engineering in Medicine; and Kevin Peterson, director of the Center for Excellence in Primary Care. The motto of MIN-REACH is “Coaching to Success” which is based upon a pilot program started at the University in 2011.