DRIVEN: The Northeast’s New Biomedical Accelerator Hub

by VBSA-admin on November 3, 2018

It’s hard starting a new biotech business, especially if biotech entrepreneurs find themselves bootstrapping a new business in isolation. Yet distributed across our region is a healthy ecosystem of thriving biotech businesses. Between these regional businesses and some well-respected research institutions, it’s clear that the northeast has the potential to support an active and productive community of biotech entrepreneurs.

So when the NIH invited Jake Reder, co-founder and CEO of Celdara Medical in Lebanon, NH, and Mercedes Rincon, Professor of Medicine at the University of Vermont, to apply for a new grant supporting the creation of regional biomedical accelerator hubs, they jumped at the chance to pull together a dream team of experts on medical entrepreneurship in the northeast.

Jake named the new hub project “DRIVEN”, the acronym borrowing letters from the abbreviations for each of the five states that the hub will serve: Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire. The hub already includes key organizations from these states, namely Celdara Medical, Simbex, Dartmouth, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Vermont, the University of Delaware, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, Maine Medical Center, Brown, and the University of Rhode Island.

The first three years of DRIVEN hub development are covered by the new grant, ultimately launching the hub into self-sustainability. The grant-funded phase of DRIVEN starts this year with a focus on identifying and curating the existing biotech resources in the northeast region. “We don’t want to recreate resources already out there and that are already great!” says Julie Coleman, the project manager hired specifically to oversee DRIVEN. Each DRIVEN institution has identified a pair of entrepreneurship leaders. Their first task is to identify existing resources, at their institutions, and in their states. Once resources have been identified, the DRIVEN team will collect and curate them on an educational website targeted to anyone with ambitions for biomedical entrepreneurship.

The team plans to spend the first year talking directly with the community of researchers and biotech entrepreneurs already working around the northeast. They will learn what technological resources they rely on, what resources are missing, and how to help them connect with each other. “We want to engage as many people as we can,” Julie says.

Years two and three of the grant will cover the creation of new tools based on the research of the first year. Those deliverables haven’t been determined yet, but Jake expects they will involve curating existing resources so new entrepreneurs can educate themselves, such as recording webinars and connecting people with internships. And perhaps most importantly, DRIVEN will need a business model to keep the hub self-sustaining after the three-year grant period.

Mercedes summed up their hopes for the DRIVEN hub, saying “Our goal is to facilitate small biomedical entrepreneurship in these five states. There are a surprising number of small biomedical businesses, we just need to connect everyone, so everyone can benefit.” After all, in the end it’s not just about business: adds Jake, “If we’re able to increase entrepreneurial success that translates to new medicines making it to patients.”

Want to learn more or help the DRIVEN hub? Julie will be holding a webinar on November 12th called “Introducing the DRIVEN Accelerator Hub.” For more information and to register please visit: http://med.uvm.edu/itrep/webinars.

 You can get in touch with the DRIVEN team at info@drivenacceleratorhub.com.

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