XLerateHealth LLC and three major universities are working together to create a hub that would help universities commercialize new biomedical technology.
The Louisville startup accelerator is working with the University of Louisville, University of Kentucky and West Virginia University to create an online accelerator hub, and their leaders announced Thursday that they will use a grant worth $3.5 million from the federal government for the effort.
The hub will be used by a coalition of 24 southeastern schools. It will provide global best practices to get through the expensive, highly competitive and highly regulated process of commercializing biomedical technology.
The three-year grant is from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a division of the National Institutes of Health. It includes about $500,000 of funding for the first year of the project.
XLerateHealth is the primary awardee of the grant. The health care-focused accelerator was founded by Jackie Willmot, who is the group’s CEO, and longtime investor Bob Saunders, who is the group’s chairman.
XLerateHealth, U of L, UK and WVU will combine their expertise in commercialization and will look globally for ideas to create a program that uses best practices for taking medical tech from the lab to the marketplace.
The accelerator hub likely will offer educational content, interactive media, “commercialization tools” and marketplaces that will connect university ideas to companies and investors, said Ian McClure, director of UK’s Office of Technology Commercialization.
“Even though a university in southern Mississippi or in the foothills of West Virginia doesn’t have Boston next door, we hope to create [the needed] accessibility through this online marketplace and hub,” McClure said. The program is intended to overcome the region’s “lack of proximity to the talent, resources and capital we find on the coasts.”
The principle investigators for the grant are McClure, Saunders, Willmot, XLerateHealth Chief Science Officer Eugene Krentsel; Richard Giersch, director of WVU’s Health Sciences Innovation Center; and Rob Keynton, interim executive vice president of research and innovation for U of L
Grant funds also will be used to bring employees from the coalition universities to Louisville for “train-the-trainer education sessions,” as McClure called it, so they can implement the ideas from the online hub, which will be led by XLerateHealth.
The leading organizations also will recruit a network of businesses and investment funds to connect to the coalition through the hub.
The Louisville-based hub will be one of four regional hubs funded by the NIGMS. Louisville’s region includes Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and West Virginia.
McClure expects the biggest impact will be on smaller schools because 13 of the 24 schools in the coalition have one person or no one in administration who leads technology commercialization.