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Biodesign launches impact initiative

August 06, 2009

The Biodesign Institute at ASU is launching a new initiative – the Impact Accelerator – to expedite the translation of scientific breakthroughs into beneficial societal impacts that will dramatically increase economic returns to the Arizona community.

The newly developed vehicle is intended to bridge the gap between discovery and delivery.

Created through a significant investment from ASU, the Arizona Legislature and Arizona voters, the Biodesign Institute is a driver of scientific innovation, work force development and economic impact; Biodesign’s Impact Accelerator is intended to enhance those efforts in further spurring economic development in Arizona.

Historically, academic technology translation efforts have been impeded due to a variety of issues that include:

• A high cost of developing innovations such as vaccines, diagnostic devices, bio-fuels, and other important advances that cause investors in early-stage companies to demand significant proof-of-concept, as well as technology risk reduction, that typically are not addressed by universities. Because universities generally are not set up to nurture research through the commercialization phase, even the most promising university research may not achieve the maturity to prompt investment.

• A high failure rate among university spin-out companies that lack the scientific breadth to solve unexpected problems. The inability to problem-solve jeopardizes the potential receipt of adequate capital needed to overcome developmental hurdles.

  Slow delivery of results. Licensing of university intellectual property is the traditional means by which universities generate a return on research investments. But royalty revenues are only realized once a device or drug is on the market. Between the patent application process, commercial development, clinical trials and FDA approval, it can take a decade before a discovery made today begins to produce a financial return.

The Impact Accelerator addresses all of these challenges and is an important vehicle for ASU’s technology marketing and commercialization arm, Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE). Rather than waiting for outside investment to spin out a company or license a technology, the Biodesign Institute’s Impact Accelerator performs the technology risk-reduction process that is critical to making the technology/innovation more attractive to investors, which then ensures forward progress of the innovation and a more rapid return that benefits ASU and the state of Arizona.

Impact Accelerator costs will be funded through the following external sources: federal granting agencies, industrial partners, foundations and individual philanthropic investments, venture investors and the ultimate commercialization of research.