As the University City Science Center’s QED proof-of-concept program launches its seventh round, one of its newest academic partners, The Pennsylvania State University, has expanded its involvement from the Medical College at Hershey to include its main campus at University Park. University Park hosts hundreds of life science researchers in colleges including the Eberly College of Science, the College of Engineering and the College of Health and Human Development, along with inter-disciplinary centers, including the Huck Life Sciences Institutes. An RFP seeking proposals to QED for technologies ripe for commercialization was issued by the Science Center to 21 participating institutions in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware on May 12, 2014.
QED, the first multi-institutional proof-of-concept program for the life sciences and health IT, brings together academic invention, market insight, and commercial guidance as researchers are paired with Business Advisors to perform technical proof-of-concept validation for life science, healthcare and health IT technologies with high commercial potential.
“Penn State Main Campus’ participation in QED signals growing interest in cross-disciplinary collaborations in technology commercialization across Pennsylvania,” says Science Center President & CEO Stephen S. Tang, Ph.D., MBA. “Innovative minds and the discoveries they will make contribute to our region’s future as a technology hub and innovation center.”
“Faculty in the College of Medicine participated in last year’s QED Program with some success. Four teams were selected as finalists in the competition, one of which garnered an award. We are hoping for the same level of enthusiasm from Penn State bioscience faculty located at University Park,” says Neil Sharkey, Penn State’s Interim Vice President for Research.
Over the next seven months, QED will offer advisory support and the chance for direct project funding to researchers from the participating institutions as they position their technologies for product development and private investment. After the QED Selection Team makes an initial cut, approximately 10 researchers will be paired with Business Advisors and work to develop business plans to commercialize their technologies. Ultimately four projects will be selected to receive up to $200,000 each.
To date, five projects funded by the QED Program have been licensed and gone on to raise additional funds. Two examples include the “U1 Adaptor” gene silencing technology developed by Dr. Samuel Gunderson, which was funded by QED in 2010 and licensed to Silagene (a Rutgers spinout) and sublicensed to Jiangsu Sinoyoung Bio-Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd, located outside Shanghai, China. Gunderson is a professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. A portable, low-cost, radiation-free breast cancer detector invented by Drexel University’s Professor Wan Y. Shih was funded by QED in 2009 and licensed to a growth-stage company in Philadelphia, UE LifeSciences. In order to ensure QED’s financial sustainability, all institutions participating in the program have agreed to contribute back a portion of their royalties or other licensing revenues from technologies that were supported by the program.
QED continues to attract additional funding based on its track record of successful commercialization outcomes. This year, the program received a $300,000 award for the Pennsylvania Department of Health to help fund Pennsylvania- based awardees.