In 2018, TEConomy produced a recommendation to the Iowa Governor’s office to invest economic development resources into four key areas: bio-based chemicals, precision and digital agriculture, vaccines and immunotherapies and medical devices. The Medical device platform development is core to the University of Iowa area economic development success. Per the TEConomy summary, “In Iowa, technology development and startup activity is occurring around the convergence of University of Iowa biomedical research specialties and the University Hospitals’ clinical practice.”
Recent startups of note include the first ever FDA cleared artificial intelligence driven diagnostic tool for screening of diabetic retinopathy in a primary care setting, Higher Learning Technologies command of the mobile test prep apps and online presence in nursing and dentistry and promising diagnostic or research lab tool development for cancer or immunotherapies.
Investments in a state-of-the-art rapid 3D printing studio (protostudios) allows for medical device prototyping and the creation of anatomical modeling of organs for teaching complex surgeries. The presence of this facility supports rapid prototyping and design support for medical device innovators within the university or elsewhere in the state of Iowa. It also allowed for the creation of MADE, a manufacturing and e-commerce initiative to encourage the development of simple, needs based solutions to everyday tasks in surgery or clinical practice. This first of its kind offering combines UI faculty solutions, 3D printing design and Iowa manufacturers to bring simple solutions to market and foster greater innovation activity within the faculty at the University.
A proposed recommendation to the Iowa Board of Regents in 2018 was the establishment of a “Chief Technology Officer” with a salary of roughly $250,000 to support the management of each platform. The University of Iowa initiated a national search to hire a medical device business executive with successful start-up and IPO experience and who had deep connections across the world of medical devices and within the venture capital community of Silicon Valley. The position of Chief Innovation Officer was hired in October of 2018. The $275,000 BioSciences Innovation funding will be used to help support the salary and benefits of this new leader.