In 2011, the William J. von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement at Univeristy of California San Diego, partnered with the California HealthCare FoundationRobert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Booz Allen Hamilton, to launch the Southern California Health Technology Acceleration Program (HTAP). This regional initiative provides researchers from universities and research institutes in southern California with funding and business mentoring to commercialize technologies that reduce healthcare costs and expand access for the underserved. HTAP is a unique approach to address the commercialization challenge—a regional model for a technology accelerator focusing on supporting cost-saving health technologies at the proof of concept (POC) stage.

 

In January 2012, The Scientist, a magazine on research and technology in the life sciences, selected LUCAS, a pocket-size holographic microscope with cell phone connectivity, as the top innovation of 2011. Developed by a UCLA professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering, the device offers a low-cost way to support disease diagnosis in resource-poor and remote regions.

LUCAS exemplifies a new wave of health technology developed by entrepreneurs and researchers worldwide. Yet despite the enormous potential of such inventions—and growing importance of universities as sources of innovative technologies—academic researchers face major hurdles in commercializing their inventions. Barriers range from difficulty attracting risk capital to a lack of expertise to fully develop and market a new invention. Consequently, many promising technologies developed in the university setting never make the transition from laboratory to market.

In 2011, the William J. von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement at Univeristy of California San Diego, partnered with the California HealthCare FoundationRobert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Booz Allen Hamilton, to launch the Southern California Health Technology Acceleration Program (HTAP). This regional initiative provides researchers from universities and research institutes in southern California with funding and business mentoring to commercialize technologies that reduce healthcare costs and expand access for the underserved. HTAP is a unique approach to address the commercialization challenge—a regional model for a technology accelerator focusing on supporting cost-saving health technologies at the proof of concept (POC) stage.

HTAP chose four teams of scientists (including the inventor of LUCAS) to receive up to $100,000 each to advance their technologies toward commercialization. The awardees are now engaged in a yearlong partnership with the von Liebig Center that includes business mentoring and funding to demonstrate POC.

Although HTAP winning projects are still in an early stage, preliminary insights offer guidance for government, university, and commercial stakeholders:

  • Changing Industry Dynamics. Stakeholders should increase awareness among researchers about the implications of industry convergence and changing payment models.
  • Program Specialization. Funders and universities should consider the value of programs that target specific areas of need and opportunity.
  • Regional Program Models. Universities and funders of acceleration programs should consider the value of regional models and how unique requirements will affect program development.
  • National Referral Network. Stakeholders should consider creating an actively managed national referral network that connects new technologies to funding, investment, and commercial opportunity.
  • Commercial Insight. Industry should work more closely with universities and funders to establish stronger connectivity between academic research and defined commercial needs.

HTAP is just the beginning, but inventions now are more likely to survive the commercialization process so patients worldwide can benefit—increasing access to high-quality care at lower cost.

FULL REPORT: ACCELERATING COMMERCIALIZATION OF COST SAVING HEALTH TECHNOLOGIES