CTSI Innovation - Overview
Translational research “helps turn early-stage innovations into new health products, advancing the innovation to the point where it becomes attractive for further development by the medical industry or healthcare agencies.”[http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/funding/Innovations/wtd027704.htm. Accessed August 28, 2015.] The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), like many universities, has created institutional programs to support and facilitate translational research among its academic innovators. However, a number of our scientists who pursue commercial translation do so without having a mastery of the discipline of clinical commercial translation. Furthermore, researchers frequently jeopardize their academic careers when embarking on this translational path because our current promotions and tenure policies do not formally reward commercialization activities. At CTSI join Pitt’s senior leadership in embracing commercial translation to advance biomedical discoveries into the marketplace while maintaining the critical pipeline of basic research. Through our Innovation as a Discipline program, we have developed an innovation program to train investigators in design thinking, to ensure continuity between scientific discovery and clinical translation through commercialization, and to support and academically reward entrepreneurship.
The University of Pittsburgh will “Extend the impact of our research through application to practice, policy development, and commercial translation”.
[The Plan for Pitt. Making a Difference Together. Academic Years 2016-2020. http://www.pitt.edu/sites/default/files/Strategic-Plan-Presentation.pdf. Accessed September 12, 2015.]
- Chancellor Patrick D. Gallagher, 2014
In 2014, Pitt’s newly appointed Chancellor embarked on a strategic initiative to open the academic research culture to foster, embrace, and reward innovation. This initiative leverages Pitt’s Innovation Institute that was launched in 2013 as a campus- and domain-wide effort to expand innovation and entrepreneurship among faculty, staff, and students and to develop partnerships with the general business community. Complementing these broad innovation efforts, CTSI has already launched two novel initiatives to create a life sciences innovation ecosystem in which scientists, clinicians, patients, advocacy groups, and community organizations work together to create novel solutions to clinically important problems:
The Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh) is a problem-focused approach to biomedical research that we developed in consultation with executives from XPrize. PInCh 1) uses a contest mechanism to incentivize multidisciplinary teams to solve clinically relevant problems, 2) selects high-value proposals through a novel proposal solicitation, submission, and review mechanism, and 3) supports projects with funding, project management, resources, and networking to investors and industry. In the first two PInCh contests, 152 teams comprising more than 500 members (72% of teams included new collaborators) submitted two-minute videos describing a well-articulated clinical problem, solution approach, and team composition. Proposals included technologies, community programs, and mobile applications (72% of teams reported proposal of a new method). Through a multi-step review process that initially included online crowdsourcing (>10,000 unique votes) and a semi-final review consistent with NIH guidelines, finalists were invited to pitch their ideas at a public forum. Judges selected winning teams that received CTSI funding and business support. PInCh has successfully stimulated new collaborations, catalyzed new directions of research, and engaged community, foundation, and industry partners with Pitt innovators.
Accelerated Innovations Program. The CTSI Accelerated Innovations Program (AIP) as an open innovation model requiring integrative partnerships with a biomedical R&D company (InCube Labs LLC), manufacturer (Modulus Inc.), and investor (InCube Ventures). This Program solicits clinically relevant, market worthy early stage concepts for technology development from Pitt scientists. Projects are evaluated by biomedical entrepreneurs in the context of market needs. Selected projects are pivoted to address market needs and supported by funding, expertise, and project and business management. Given that projects are addressing well-defined market needs, there is an increased likelihood that they will successfully exit the commercial translation pipeline. For more information about this program, please contact Donald P Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or John S. Maier at email@example.com.
PInCh and AIP are primary drivers of new projects that form the CTSI Innovation Portfolio. We are developing Innovation as a Discipline by providing experiential training and mentoring for innovators, developing and disseminating new methods and processes to support innovative approaches to clinically important problems, and enabling efficient navigation of the commercialization pathway.