We're Better Together: University Innovations, 9-30-2016

Dear colleagues, 

There is a deeply rooted entrepreneurial spirit on this campus. Our history of innovation has led to important patents, powerful companies and discoveries that improve lives. But the evolving health care landscape requires new models for innovation, ones that leverage our considerable assets to generate revenue outside traditional models. So I'd like to update you on how we are accelerating CU Anschutz ideas and discoveries into real-world impacts for the broader community.

A new office​

In July, we launched CU Innovations, a vital conduit between inventors and innovators located here at CU Anschutz and the private industry executives who can take their breakthroughs to market. 

CU Innovations, once known as the Technology Transfer Office, is led by Kimberly Muller, who joined us in June 2015 from the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. Between Kim and Steve VanNurden, CU Anschutz executive director of biotechnology relationships and CEO of the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority who joined us from the Mayo Clinic in 2012, I am confident we have the right leadership to advance in this critically important arena. 

Over the last year, Kim, Steve and their team have expanded on the work of the previous Technology Transfer Office -- which focused primarily on intellectual property and license management -- to partner with the campus hospitals, re-engineer the innovation development process and build new corporate partnerships. To better engage faculty, they are holding regular seminars at which successful entrepreneurs from our Entrepreneur in Residence program meet with faculty who have innovative ideas. They're putting scientists, physicians and researchers with novel ideas in touch with investors and business developers to discuss their likelihood of success. And they're promoting the incentive program for faculty who develop ideas to share in successes. 

Partnering for success

Yet for these innovations to succeed, we must continue to nurture strong relationships with hospitals and industry. That's why CU Innovations is partnering with New York City-based StartUp Health to bring start-up companies and potential partners in technology development to campus. Startup Health will have its own office in the Bioscience 2 Building.

Additionally, CU Innovations assisted Children's Hospital Colorado (CHCO) in its June 1 launchof the new Center for Innovation led by Kim Muller, which leverages the CU Innovations infrastructure through a web portal that helps CHCO's employees identify ways to improve kids' health and CHCO's internal processes. The center will provide training, workshops and programs to bolster new ideas that have potential for commercialization and support new ways to improve a patient's hospital experience. 

Similarly, UCHealth has created the CARE Innovation Center under Dr. Richard Zane, Boedecker Foundation Endowed Chair of Emergency Medicine. As chief innovation officer for UCHealth, Dr. Zane founded the CARE Innovation Center to test novel approaches that can strengthen health care service, improve patient outcomes and minimize cost.

Streamlining processes

We're also working to remove obstacles to tech transfer on campus, from developing new funding mechanisms to cutting bureaucratic red tape. 

We receive more than $425 million each year in research funding. While this leads to research breakthroughs, there is often a gap between discovery and commercialization due to insufficient resources. The new Chancellor's Discovery & Innovation Fund was set up to provide targeted, early-stage funding to fill this gap. The fund plans to raise and leverage $10 million in private philanthropic contributions to support the most promising discoveries at CU Anschutz in their early stages and accelerate their move to the clinic and the marketplace. 

In addition, our processes for getting clinical trials approved had been time-consuming and often duplicative. To fix this, we're developing a coordinated regulatory and reporting path for the more than 1,400 active clinical research projects on campus. Alison Lakin, associate vice chancellor for regulatory compliance, along with Dr. Thomas Flaig, chief clinical research officer for UCHealth and associate dean for clinical research in the School of Medicine, oversee a new joint clinical research administrative office, offering a central location for previously disparate research admin offices from UCHealth and the university. Staff members with similar roles from both institutions are now physically co-located, allowing them to manage the clinical research protocol simultaneously. This has resulted in tremendous economies of scale and efficiencies, allowing our campus to compete with the more well-known academic health centers nationally.

We have the expertise, leadership, facilities and culture to speed the pace of translating research into practice and make an enormous impact on the health care industry. It's not out of the realm of possibility for our university to be mentioned in the same breath as Stanford, the Mayo Clinic or the Texas Medical Center when it comes to innovation. They've had a big head start, but we are making giant strides. Our efforts to generate new revenue streams and advance technology in revolutionary ways is yet another example of how at CU Anschutz, we're clearly better together.


Don Elliman


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