Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Tulsa and Tulsa Innovation Labs have announced the launch of Canopy Healthtech, a new multi-year initiative to accelerate the commercialization of virtual health innovations from Oklahoma universities.
The program will catalyze start-up growth and improve health care outcomes by supporting the development of critical virtual health technologies that address regional health care delivery gaps.
This unique multi-university partnership leverages the strengths of each institution to develop technologies which will expand health care access to traditionally underserved patient populations, such as rural, indigenous and inner-city communities.
“Oklahoma innovators have developed technologies with the potential to positively impact human health via emerging virtual and hybrid in-person care models,” said Shawna Khouri, director of the Virtual Health portfolio at Tulsa Innovation Labs and architect of the Canopy Healthtech program. “To reach their potential, these technologies need business, regulatory and marketing expertise. Canopy will surround clinical and technical faculty members with the necessary funding as well as the expertise that’s critical to bridging these innovations from bench to business.”
The partnership among the universities is a key feature of the program.
“Through the vision and leadership of OSU’s Center for Health System Innovation, OU’s Tom Love Innovation Hub and the University of Tulsa — as well as the support of the George Kaiser Family Foundation — we will catalyze startup formation across the state,” Khouri said.
“We are excited to see where this new partnership will take us,” said Ron Van Der Busche, senior associate vice president for research at OSU. “OSU’s land grant mission means serving our communities in the state and Canopy will be a catalyst to move OSU virtual health technology into the real world.”
The program is modeled on the principles of the Coulter Translational Program and includes three arms:
1. Canopy PREP, a series of educational workshops on the commercialization pathway for virtual health technologies and curated conversations around pertinent clinical challenges and opportunities;
2. Canopy FUND, $400,000 for competitive non-dilutive awards to translate academic intellectual property at the seed and concept level into commercially viable virtual health technologies; and
3. Canopy COMMENCE, which offers exclusive access to industry experts and ecosystem assistance to accelerate the translational success of Canopy Fund awardees.
The program is led by Executive Director Rachel Lane, Ph.D., R.D., a senior staff member of the University of Oklahoma Price College of Business Tom Love Innovation Hub and former CEO of BIO Alabama.
She earned her doctorate degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Lane began her career in clinical dietetics, working closely with clinicians to provide evidence-based nutrition to acute care patients.
She has a track record of success in founding and leading organizations, including the Oklahoma Association for Women in Science Affiliate Group, which she established to promote the professional success of women in STEM.
Lane has the clinical, research and entrepreneurship experience to facilitate seamless collaboration between academic labs, health care systems and industry to transform Oklahoma research into virtual health companies that will create jobs and increase equitable health care access across the state.
“The funds and mentoring Canopy provides inventors will support startup formation from Oklahoma ideas. As these companies choose to stay and grow in Oklahoma — fortified by a supportive environment that Shawna Khouri, Tulsa Innovation Labs and the George Kaiser Family Foundation have built — we will gain a critical mass of business and workforce that uniquely differentiates and desirably distinguishes our industry with a competitive economic edge,” Lane said.