MedImmune has joined the NIH’s Centers for Accelerated Innovations (NCAI) program as its first biopharma corporate partner.

The global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca said it will team up with NCAI awardees and help shape the program’s strategic direction. MedImmune said it may also review prospective NCAI technologies in collaboration with the awardees, and provide feedback regarding their commercial potential and early-stage development.

NCAI is designed to accelerate the commercialization of university-based technologies, addressing a longtime gap in the commercialization pipeline between scientific discovery and company formation. Technologies of interest include those focused on improving the diagnosis, treatment, management, and prevention of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders and diseases.

The program seeks to support more rapid and effective translation of innovative technologies to commercial applications that it believes “will have health, economic, and societal impact.”

NCAI is spending $32.5 million provided by NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to launch three translational research Centers of Innovation consisting of 14 top-tier research institutions:

  • Boston Biomedical Innovation Center (B-BIC): Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and President and Fellows of Harvard College. B-BIC last month awarded its first two “Pilot” grants of up to $50,000 to support direct costs for one year. Last year, B-BIC awarded its first two “Drive” grants of up to $200,000 for direct costs toward milestone-based projects.
  • NCAI at Cleveland Clinic (NCAI-CC): The Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine; Case Western Reserve University; Cincinnati Children’s Hospital; The Ohio State University; and University of Cincinnati. NCAI-CC is reviewing letters of intent for grants of up to $250,000, submitted by a February 10 deadline. Selected applicants will be invited on March 3 to submit full funding applications due April 14, with award notices to be made in June.
  • University of California Biomedical Research Acceleration Integration and Development (UC BRAID) Center for Accelerated Innovation: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); UC, Davis; UC, Irvine; UC, San Diego; and University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

NCAI-CC is funded with $1.5 million from Ohio’s Third Frontier tech-based economic development program, in addition to $11 million from NHLBI.

Launched in 2010, UC BRAID has worked to identify clinical and translational needs, as well as enable partnerships across the five UC health campuses and UC’s Office of the President.

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