Faculty researchers have an opportunity to receive critical funding and expert support to turn their research into commercial opportunity as the Blavatnik Fund for Innovation at Yale enters its second year. The Fund, which is supported by a grant from the Blavatnik Family Foundation and administered by the Yale Office of Cooperative Research, allows promising faculty research to pass key early-stage hurdles in proof-of-concept and validation in order to attract interest from investors and industry partners.
The Fund’s first year at Yale was a major success, drawing 70 proposals primarily for therapeutics, but also medical devices and platform technologies, from across the Yale research landscape. From these emerged 17 finalists with eight winners announced at the Yale Innovation Summit in May. Winners included Alanna Schepartz, Milton Harris ‘29 Ph.D. Professor of Chemistry & Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, who received a $300,000 Development Grant for her technology that traffics protein into the cytosol and nucleus to deliver personalized therapeutics, and Elliott Brown, Assistant Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, who received a $100,000 Pilot Grant for his novel bone marrow aspiration device.
“Our first year piloting the Blavatnik Fund at Yale made it clear that this program serves a critical function at Yale,” says Bill Wiesler, Director of New Ventures at OCR who is serving as Director of the Fund. “There is a real need for both the funding and the associated guidance around business planning and pitching that allows researchers to fine-tune their ideas to be marketed commercially.”
Faculty applicants spoke highly of the process, which matched them with investors and corporate partners who gave them insights into how to think like entrepreneurs. “The program is fantastic in every way,” says Schepartz. “The amount of money is significant – and allows one to design a serious program that accomplishes significant goals in a short period of time. The rules force scientists to think like entrepreneurs. And the mentorship was truly exceptional.”
This year, researchers can apply by November 1, 2017, with Initial Pre-Proposals, which will give them an opportunity to work with OCR Business Development Leads to refine their proposals. Pre-Proposals will be due December 1, 2017. OCR will also hold info sessions to provide an overview of the Fund, the application process and to answer any questions.
For up-to-date information, please visit the Blavatnik Fund for Innovation at Yale website.