About Our Programs
BioAccel's funding focus is on biodevices and disruptive technologies.
BioAccel Commercialization Programs
The BioAccel Commercialization Programs were created to fill the expertise and financial gaps that prohibit important technology from being developed and commercialized (see Figure 1). The BioAccel Commercialization Programs are designed to translate novel scientific advances and discoveries into commercially viable devices that improve patient care and advance public health. The programs build upon the philosophy of venture philanthropy as a mechanism to bring resources to the Life Sciences and are focused on stimulating and accelerating technology development. BioAccel's approach to venture philanthropy is milestone-based and outcome-driven. This results-oriented approach utilizes a strategic and rigorous review process that includes Project Management best practices to facilitate the development and commercialization of the most promising projects.
While Arizona’s research and academic institutes create valuable intellectual property, commercialization of these technologies can be stalled due to gaps in the availability of necessary resources. One of the most significant gaps relates to available funding, as depicted by the “Valley of Death” (Figure 1). While there are billions of competitive dollars available for basic research, relatively little funding is available to perform the proof of concept studies required to make these scientific discoveries more alluring and less risky for venture capitalists and other investors. The lack of resources in the initial phases has been exacerbated by economy-driven budget cuts and recent trends in venture capital financing that show venture capitalists are not making as many early-stage financing deals. The result is even more scientific discoveries being stalled within research labs.
Even if funding is available, research projects may not evolve effectively because (1) technical and business knowledge gaps exist within the research institute, (2) the research staff is not equipped to independently develop the technology further, and/or (3) an attempt is made to license the technology or create a new company before the proof of concept is fully validated, reducing the likelihood of success and the return on investment (ROI) to the home institution.
The ability to focus on individual intellectual property and shepherd it along the commercialization continuum requires a dedicated infrastructure to break down barriers and open up bottlenecks thus allowing important research to evolve toward commercial viability (Figure 2).
Solution - Create an organization focused on facilitating access to capital, facilities, technology experts, business development support, and commercialization/business expertise. BioAccel is such an organization, a fully independent, 501(c)3 dedicated to transforming discoveries into new business opportunities that accelerate the commercialization of life science technologies. While currently focusing on biomedical devices, BioAccel’s vision encompasses diagnostics, therapeutics, medical devices, tools, and disruptive technologies. The organization’s mission and staff are dedicated to creating new programs that bridge the common resource gaps to efficiently enhance and develop technology into commercially available products and services. BioAccel promotes economic development in Arizona by (1) providing funding for specific life science projects emanating within Arizona, (2) providing technical and business mentoring and support services to assist entrepreneurs and early-stage companies to move discoveries towards commercialization, and (3) providing educational opportunities to entrepreneurs, scientists, students, and philanthropists to help them better understand the various requirements of transforming a life science discovery into a commercial success.
The BioAccel Commercialization Programs will support a portfolio of novel discoveries in the Life Sciences that are screened through a rigorous independent review process. The program will target technologies that are poised for proof of concept, prototype development and/or preclinical studies. The major areas of focus are diagnostics, prognostics, therapeutics, medical devices, tools, and services within the Life Science sector. BioAccel anticipates supporting ~10 projects each year with an estimated $1.5M available annually.
There are two related programs within the BioAccel Commercialization Programs:
This program provides funding for research/clinical projects that have progressed to a point where a commercial product can be envisioned, but additional development efforts are required to confirm or validate the initial discovery and commercial potential. Projects that require proof-of-concept, validation, pre-clinical data, or prototype development are examples of TAP-eligible projects.
Traditional funding mechanisms, such as National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants and venture capital funding, are typically not available for projects in this transitional stage of development. As a result, these projects are often significantly delayed, terminated, or licensed at great discounts to third parties before their true value is known. Phase 1 funding provides a way for these projects to progress quickly to the next stage of commercialization, while increasing the technology’s commercial value. Unlike many granting organizations, BioAccel provides hands-on oversight to these projects to ensure that the focused milestones result in accelerated outcomes. A typical TAP project should require less than $100,000 (clinical projects may be more) and be completed in less than 12 months. The expected outcome of a successful TAP project is the validation of the technology that leads to the launch of a new company but could result in the execution of a license to a third party.
This program creates new companies from technologies that have graduated from TAP and show clear commercial potential, as well as supports early stage companies (less than $3M valuation and in operation for less than two years) that require management, technical development, and funding support to validate a specific technology. NVDP provides assistance in launching the company, forming the management team, identifying facilities, and providing mentorship for the entrepreneur through the initial stages of the company formation.
The technologies contained in these new companies are typically too early in development to be attractive to Angel Investors or Venture Capitalists. Therefore, BioAccel programs help to address this gap. NVDP funding may be up to $300,000 to support new company formation and launch.
As part of its economic development mission, any company that BioAccel creates or supports must operate a significant portion of their business within Arizona Enterprise Zones (economically depressed areas defined by the State of Arizona).
Applications for BioAccel programs are solicited from public and private research programs, early stage companies, and entrepreneurs. To increase the chances of funding projects whose technology will ultimately be commercialized, the external review process includes criteria that assess applications in an objective manner. An independent ad-hoc review committee of scientific, industry, financial, and business subject matter experts review applications and recommend projects to be funded. A final report of the review committee’s findings is prepared and shared with the applicant to provide education and guidance.