SEATTLE, Washington, March 11, 2013 — The Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF) today announced nearly $750,000 in Proof of Concept grants to three Washington organizations to support transition of promising health-related technologies from concept to commercial product. Also announced was up to $1.4 million in matching funds to the University of Washington to foster technology commercialization, conditioned upon that institution receiving a larger federal grant. LSDF will also sponsor an experienced entrepreneur to determine the most appropriate commercialization pathway for “smart home” technology developed at Washington State University through two prior grants.
Two of the Proof of Concept grants were awarded to early-stage companies to fund prototype development or data collection needed to secure private equity investment. OtoMetrix Medical Technologies, Inc. (principal investigator Mark Kraus) will create and test a prototype device for rapid and accurate diagnosis of middle ear infections. RJS Biologics, LLC (principal investigator Stephen McCraith) will develop and test targeted therapies for cancer.
A Proof of Concept grant also was awarded to Dr. Lawrence Loeb at the University of Washington to further develop a highly accurate DNA sequencing method that could enhance cancer early detection, treatment selection, and assessment of disease recurrence.
The conditional grant to the University of Washington would be the first Opportunity award for the 2012-2013 funding cycle. Opportunity grants support initiatives that significantly leverage LSDF dollars against those from other sources. Dr. Charles Murry will lead a new program to translate commercially viable technologies in the area of cardiovascular, lung, and blood diseases from the laboratory to the market. LSDF funding would be provided contingent upon receipt of a multi-million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health and would be further matched by contributions from participating organizations.
The “entrepreneur in residence” at Washington State University will develop strategies for commercializing technology that monitors the elderly in their own residences and helps keep them out of nursing homes. The new funding, to be provided as a supplement to an ongoing grant to Diane Cook, will be matched by monies from Washington State University.
“LSDF has directly funded the commercial development of diagnostic and therapeutic products in Washington since 2007, and we are pleased to add three new Proof of Concept awards to our portfolio,” stated LSDF executive director John DesRosier. “Through our newest Opportunity grant, we also expect to support a commercialization infrastructure with the capacity to shepherd multiple ‘homegrown’ technologies from idea to impact.”
The LSDF Board of Trustees made the final award selections following review of proposals for scientific and technical merit, commercial potential, and possible health and economic benefits.
“The board has previously invested in Dr. Cook’s work to develop ‘smart home’ technology, which has the power to keep the elderly independent and safe in their homes and may reduce costs for institutional care,” stated board chair Lura Powell. “This technology needs to get into the commercial marketplace to have maximum impact, and we are happy to provide supplemental funding to help determine the best way to do so.”