Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Harvard Reaches Out to Industry

Harvard University has started a “Technology Development Accelerator Fund” managed by the Office of Technology Development, to fund early stage applied and translational research that has commercial potential. Very often, early stage funding from industry sources is not available to advance potential important technologies in life sciences. The goal is to accelerate new discoveries, create more attractive opportunities for licensing, investment, and commercial development, and expand public access to new technologies developed at Harvard.

New inventions made by scientists in an academic environment are often at an early-stage of development, while showing great promise; many of these innovations languish or lie dormant due to the lack of data needed to secure the funding required for continued development and commercialization. As a result, many new technologies with potential to save lives never make it out of the lab.

The Office of Technology Development works with start-up ventures on new ideas and technologies. The Office has to consider several factors when considering how to help new companies develop technology. These include questioning whether the technology can provide a platform for multiple product opportunities, availability of risk capital, and the commitment of the inventor to the commercialization process.

An example of a Harvard start-up company is Claros Diagnostics Inc. The core technology was conceived by the Claros founders in the Harvard laboratory of Professor George Whitesides. The goal was to create products to move in-vitro medical diagnostic tests out of the laboratory and into the hands of physicians and patients.

Claros in working with Harvard was able to develop a handheld immunoassay system to provide high performance quantitative laboratory blood test results in an inexpensive, portable, and easy to use configuration. The system consists of a handheld analyzer along with a disposable cassette capable of testing for multiple diseases simultaneously. The test requires only a finger prick of blood and yields quantitative protein measurements in less than 15 minutes.

For more information, go to www.techtransfer.harvard.edu.