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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society

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The Institute for Genomic Biology is happy to announce the award recipients in the 2012 IGB Proof of Concept (POC) Initiative.  There is a well-known funding gap between basic laboratory research and the resulting commercial products.  Proof of Concept (POC) funding has proven to be a crucial element in bridging this so called “valley of death” between research and development.  The goal of POC funding is to “de-risk” an invention such that the technology is more attractive for either (1) licensing to an existing company or (2) enabling the formation for a startup company that will raise money and further develop and commercialize the technology.  Ensuring transformative research has the opportunity to positively impact the world through commercialization is a critical part of the IGB’s mission of advancing life science research and stimulating bioeconomic development in Illinois.  In accordance with this mission, the IGB POC Initiative is just one way that the IGB supports its faculty in pursuit of commercializable solutions to problems affecting humanity.

Although previous IGB POC funds have come from a variety of sources, the 2012 IGB POC funding comes solely from the IGB.  This year, three projects were chosen to receive POC funding as well as additional entrepreneurial support that will help bridge the gap between the laboratory and commercial applications.  Thirteen proposals were reviewed by a panel of five experts from venture capital, industry, and academia.  Funded projects were selected on the basis of having clear market potential, targeted milestones, secure intellectual property, and well-defined deliverables.  The OTM facilitated the proposal selection process and will manage the distribution of monetary awards.

In addition to monetary support, the 2012 IGB POC award package includes many other services to help advance the commercialization of research projects including:

  • 6 hours per month of free consultation with a Research Park Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR)
  • Automatic acceptance into the highly competitive I-Start Entrepreneur Assistance Program and guaranteed 75%-90% upfront funding matching
  • Assistance from OTM-appointed IGB Commercialization Analyst with market analysis, industry and venture capital activity reports, and intellectual property landscape information
  • Introductions to industry contacts, venture capitalists, and notification of entrepreneurial events

The funded proposals are:

”Evolutionary Pharmaceuticals” Dr. William Metcalf (IGB faculty, Department of Microbiology) and Dr. Neil Kelleher (Northwestern University, previous IGB affiliate): Drs. Metcalf and Kelleher propose to create a natural product screening platform based on Actinomyecete genomes. 

“Accurate Sequence Alignment using Distributed Filtering on GPU Clusters” Dr. Victor Jongeneel (IGB, NCSA) and Dr. Roy Campbell (Department of Computer Science):  Drs. Jongeneel and Campbell’s proposal seeks to decrease the time required to align short genomic sequence reads.

“Stereolithographically Assembled Living Vascular Stamp for Neovascularization of Wounds and Ischemic Tissue” Dr. Hyunjoon Kong (IGB faculty, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering) and Dr. Rashid Bashir (IGB affiliate, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering): Drs. Kong and Bashir are investigating a revascularization strategy to allow for spatial control of functional neovessels.

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