Fast Forward Medical Innovation, a unit of the Medical School Office of Research, recently announced that its Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) for Life Sciences Innovation Hub has awarded a combined $1.9 million in funding to 10 biomedical research projects.
They are a cross-section of high-tech, mid-stage research projects led by researchers at U-M, Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University, and Spectrum Health Innovation, aiming to address significant unmet needs in healthcare with the goal of commercializing the research and positively impacting human health.
“MTRAC awards enhance the internal innovation pipeline,” says Michelle Larkin, MSE, Director for Commercialization Programs – Fast Forward Medical Innovation. “As a statewide Innovation Hub, we are able to accelerate innovative concepts from across Michigan in the areas of medical devices, diagnostics, therapeutics, and healthcare IT.”
Researchers presented their proposals to an oversight committee composed of 19 experienced technologists, entrepreneurs, industry partners, and venture capitalists with a track record of commercializing and investing in frontier technologies. The researchers will receive mentorship support from the committee members as their projects progress toward commercialization.
“We are continually impressed by the breadth and quality of biomedical technologies that Michigan’s universities and health systems are developing,” said James Eadie, M.D., Partner at Santé Ventures and MTRAC Oversight Committee member. “MTRAC provides a forum for the committee, as ‘end customers’ of these technologies, to provide industry guidance before they leave the institution, which sets them up for better success in their next commercial steps.”
The 10 projects funded by the hub focus on biomedical innovations that have the potential to bring solutions to the market while greatly impacting human lives and the medical industry. Funded projects include: novel therapeutics to treat conditions such as osteoarthritis, heart failure, and acute respiratory distress syndrome; a research instrument that improves the single cell sequencing process; and an innovative endotracheal tube designed to be seen on ultrasound.
“There is a solid foundation for life sciences innovation in Michigan, and we are proud to continue building upon it at the university level with this program,” said Kelly Sexton, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Research - Technology Transfer and Innovation Partnerships at U-M. “These researchers are stepping out of their comfort zone into the entrepreneurial arena, demonstrating their passion to bring their technologies to commercial reality.”
Since the MTRAC for Life Sciences Innovation Hub was launched in 2017, it has received 193 proposals, funded 87 projects, and secured over $8 million in follow-on funding.
“The projects coming out of the Life Sciences Innovation Hub demonstrate what researchers and entrepreneurs in our state are capable of achieving when they are provided mentoring, resources, and funding through the MTRAC programs,” said MEDC University Relations Director Denise Graves. “The MTRAC programs are a vital resource to Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and we are pleased to see continued successes and collaboration from participating universities and hospital systems across the state.”
The MTRAC Innovation Hub for Life Science is co-managed by the U-M Medical School’s Fast Forward Medical Innovation Program and U-M Tech Transfer. The hub is part of a network of statewide innovation hubs that includes the MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Computing Technologies at Wayne State University, the MTRAC Innovation Hub for AgBio at Michigan State University, the MTRAC Advanced Applied Materials Innovation Hub at Michigan Technological University and the MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Transportation at the University of Michigan. Each hub is strategically located at a university with significant strengths in the sector, further increasing the quality and quantity of resources available.
The MTRAC program itself is supported by funds from the Michigan Strategic Fund and administered by the MEDC, with additional funding coming from partner institutions. Since inception through March, MTRAC programs have received 745 proposals, funded 336 projects, developed 64 startup companies, licensed 49 technologies to industry partners and secured more than $249M in follow-on funding.