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 2023 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 products and services, high end 3-D printing and prototyping services via Protostudios, business support for early-stage University startups; on-going networking for faculty and staff with industry leaders and investors; and connection with University and state initiatives to promote economic development.
GAP Funding is college or department specific and has been established in College of Medicine, College of Engineering, Department of Nursing, and College of Education with plans to expand into College of Dentistry and Pharmacy often with matching funds from the colleges. The funds provide resources and expertise for innovative faculty and staff to transform ideas into viable prototypes (Protostudios) and clinical units as the first step in the commercialization pipeline as well as demonstrating to innovative faculty that the State of Iowa is here to support their 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, allowing 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 and grow as they service MADE clients and others across the state in need of prototypes for medical devices and beyond. Keeping up with demand has required growing the team and 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, the number one unmet need for entrepreneurs and innovators was the need for coordination and connection of the right resources at the right moment in development. A Kaufmann Foundation grant allowing us to study best practices at similar universities in the Midwest. We are executing new ways to attract faculty to entrepreneurial behavior. Connecting innovators to technical expertise, regulatory and legal support, industry talent and capital, and like-minded individuals on campus in order to assemble collaborative teams is essential. In 2023 we will continue to concentrate resources to build a more robust mechanism to communicate internally and externally with our various stakeholders.