The University of Iowa (SUI) BioSciences Platform Development
The Med-tech 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.” TEConomy went on to state, “Building interest and momentum with faculty to advance innovations along a commercialization pathway” was a key barrier that had to be overcome to realize the economic potential resident in Iowa.
The areas we are investing in during fiscal 2024 are the following.
UI Ventures and Protostudios
UI Ventures supports innovative, research-driven startups on the University of Iowa campus through initiatives including GAP Funding for early-stage product inventions and services, business support for early-stage University startups; on-going networking for faculty and staff with industry leaders, medtech entrepreneurs, and investors; and connection to University and state initiatives promoting economic development.
GAP Funding has been established in College of Medicine, College of Engineering, Department of Nursing, College of Education, College of Dentistry and Pharmacy often with matching funds from the colleges. The funds support resources and expertise for innovative faculty and staff to transform ideas into viable prototypes (Protostudios) as the first step in the commercialization pipeline; it also serves to demonstrate to faculty that the State of Iowa is here to support entrepreneurial aspirations.
MADE and Protostudios
The SUI has created a one-of-a-kind program – MADE, a student managed manufacturing and e-commerce initiative whose mission is to encourage and facilitate innovative, needs based products reaching the market with the twin goals of solving problems and enhancing economic development as an extension of research and scholarship. The MADE program is almost entirely student run, developing real world experience for the next generation of entrepreneurs while offering UI faculty and staff a unique outlet encouraging the development of simple solutions to everyday tasks in surgery or clinical practice. Protostudios continues to expand its design support, high end 3D printing and prototyping services supporting MADE clients, manufacturers, entrepreneurs and startup companies across the state and beyond in need of prototypes for medical devices and other types of products. Keeping up with demand has required growing the team and our capabilities to address the growing interest in biosciences product development to address unmet needs in healthcare.
In an exhaustive needs-based discovery exercise across campus funded by a grant from the Kaufmann Foundation uncovered the number one unmet need for entrepreneurs and innovators was coordination and connection of the right resources at the right moment in medtech product or company development. As a result, we created an Iowa Innovation Leadership Fellowship training program for medical students, post docs and graduate students teaching the principles of biodesign. We also created a Statewide Nursing Innovation program to create agency for nurses to pursue solutions to unmet needs in healthcare. In 2024 we are expanding these initiatives as we build a more robust mechanism to communicate and collaborate across stakeholders.