DBJ: Wright State research group receives $750K grant to launch med-tech startups

Dennis Andersh headshot

Dennis Andersh, CEO of the Wright State Applied Research Corporation and Wright State Research Institute

A research group affiliated with a Dayton-area university will receive a $750,000 grant to establish an accelerator program for medical technology startups.

Wright State Applied Research Corp. (WSARC) is one of 44 organizations from 28 states and two territories to earn grants totaling $23 million from the Economic Development Administration. The grants are made annually under the EDA’s Regional Innovation Strategies program competition. The 2019 awardees also will leverage an additional $26 million in matching funds from a variety of private and public sector sources.

With the funding, which includes nearly $750,000 in federal dollars along with an $800,000 local match, WSARC will create the “Dayton MedTech Nexus Initiative.” This program is meant to accelerate the timeline to funding for medical technology startups by aligning the region’s healthcare specialization, defense research assets and entrepreneurial ecosystems, as well as building new medical technology commercialization pathways.

“This is great news for the region,” WSARC CEO Dennis Andersh said. “The research labs and entrepreneurs in the Dayton region are creating world-class technologies with the potential to save lives across the globe. We’re excited to work with EDA & regional partners to get these products to market.”

The Dayton MedTech Nexus Initiative will:

  • Break down silos to build a connected network of researchers, entrepreneurs, champions, mentors, investors and resource providers.
  • Expand a startup pipeline that deploys commercialization programming to strategic opportunities.
  • Create regulatory strategy programming and prototype development funding opportunities that align with existing entrepreneurial support programs.
  • Create infrastructure to match students with MedTech startups needing support.

The project involves taking medical technologies that have been developed at Wright State and by other local organizations and turning them into prototypes that can then be commercialized with funding from investors.

“The grant will help med-tech startups get to market quicker,” said John Owen, a program manager at Wright State Research Institute (WSRI).

WSARC provides administration and oversight of a large number of government and defense contracts, while Wright State Research Institute performs the scientific work of those contracts. Partners on the project with the WSRI include Wright State’s The ONEIL Center, The Entrepreneurs Center, BioOhio and the University of Dayton’s Fastlane.

Over the next three years, WSRI and its partners hope to create a network of 300 researchers, entrepreneurs, mentors and investors; create and assess a pipeline of 100 med-tech opportunities; support the development of 50 med-tech companies; place 50 interns in med-tech companies; and see $10 million invested in startups.

Wright State joined the likes of Johns Hopkins University and Cornell University as recipients of the grants among the pool of183 applicants.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are an indispensable part of the American economic success story, and the Trump Administration is pursuing an agenda that will ensure the U.S. remains a leader in both areas,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross stated. “These projects will spark innovation across the country and will build on the beneficial environment the Trump Administration is creating for American businesses.”

The grants are designed to help develop initiatives that advance new ideas and creative approaches to address rapidly evolving economic conditions. They support planning, technical assistant and/or infrastructure construction.

The grant to WSRI provides the institute and its five partners a total of $750,000 over three years. It was the only EDA Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) i6 program grant awarded in Ohio and the first ever in the Dayton region.

Brandy Foster, executive director of the ONEIL Center, said the students there support Dayton’s thriving entrepreneurial community in a uniquely collaborative experiential learning setting.

“We’re excited to expand our efforts toward building a workforce development pipeline for the med-tech startup ecosystem,” she said.

Founded in 2011, Wright State Applied Research Corp. provides contracting, grant and research administration services to the Wright State Research Institute, the university and the state of Ohio.

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