WVU, partners announce hub to train entrepreneurs, commercialize healthcare tech

Hoping to speed up the move from idea to application, West Virginia University and 23 other regional institutions have come together to create a “virtual hub” that will ultimately help speed the commercialization of groundbreaking university research.

WVU, as part of its commitment to create and support a strong entrepreneurial culture in the state, will collaborate with XLerateHealth, a small business that focuses on healthcare technology startups and commercialization.

The hub will help accelerate cutting-edge biomedical technologies and products move from the laboratory into the marketplace and commercialize new innovation in pharmaceuticals, medical devices, healthcare IT and electronics.

WVU, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville co-lead the university side of this effort and organized a consortium of participating regional universities to collaborate with XLerateHealth.

“This biomedical technology accelerator will provide unparalleled opportunities to bring the brightest minds together to advance and commercialize technologies that can truly make a difference in people’s lives here in West Virginia, across Appalachia and beyond,” WVU President Gordon Gee said. “West Virginia University is pleased to be able to join forces with so many of our neighboring institutions to deliver world-changing discoveries and innovation that will generate economic opportunities while leveraging breakthroughs in healthcare.”

Through the creation of this online “virtual hub,” WVU, XLerateHealth, UK and UofL will coordinate programming, educational resources and commercialization tools for all participating institutions to utilize. There will also be support services to help entrepreneurs protect their intellectual property, assist in technology transfer that will forge mutually beneficial relationships between researchers and the business community and offer business coaching, business incubation and networking opportunities.

“As WVU’s health research embodies partnerships, innovation and workforce development, we are excited to help pave the way for more leading researchers to commercialize their advanced technologies and products that could ultimately save lives, revolutionize our healthcare system and boost regional economic opportunities,” said Laura Gibson, senior associate vice president for research and graduate education. “Thanks to these collaborative efforts, this accelerator hub will provide vast resources, training and networking opportunities to help groundbreaking research get off the shelves and enter the real world, making a lasting impact on future medical treatments and long-term health.

The accelerator hub will be funded by a three-year $3.5 million grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a division of the National Institutes of Health, as part of their Institution Development Award program. The Southeast region includes West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico and South Carolina.

“We are thrilled to partner with neighboring institutions to encourage the growth and development of West Virginia’s life science business community,” said Richard Giersch, principal investigator and director of the Health Sciences Innovation Center.

“This new partnership will build on the success of WVU’s Health Sciences Innovation Center, which has helped bring more than $3 million dollars of private investment and over $6 million in grant funding to West Virginia over the past three years. We look forward to growing this dynamic innovation ecosystem across the WVU system and beyond.”

The other institutions which have pledged support and will participate in managing the program’s various committees and initiatives include: Ana G. Mendez University System, Benedict College, Clemson University, Coastal Carolina University, Eastern Kentucky University, Jackson State University, LSU Health Services, Marshall University, Medical University of South Carolina, Morehead State University, Northern Kentucky University, Ponce Health Sciences University/Ponce School of Medicine, Puerto Rico Science Technology & Research Trust Southern University A&M College, Tulane University, University of Arkansas, University of Mississippi, University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus, Western Kentucky University and Winthrop University.

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