Department of Medicine

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine & UH Case Medical Center

Ohio Third Frontier approves biomedical project, investing grants

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The Ohio Third Frontier Commission on Wednesday approved $20 million in Wright Project grants, including nearly $9 million for three biomedical projects.

During their first meeting since voters approved an extension and expansion of the Ohio Third Frontier through fiscal 2015, commissioners also approved $11 million in entrepreneurial support and pre-seed investment fund grants, as well as a fiscal 2011 budget between $125 million and $143 million.

Third Frontier is the 10-year, $1.35 billion program to re-energize Ohio’s economy by investing in projects in five industry clusters, including biomedical. Early this month, voters added $700 million in bond proceeds and four years to the program.

The five commissioners who attended Wednesday’s meeting voted unanimously to fund seven Wright Project grant proposals, including:
Cleveland Clinic: $3 million for its Clinically Applied Rehabilitation Engineering project, which aims at developing, testing, manufacturing and commercializing advanced, rehabilitative medical products for patients suffering from cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, metabolic and musculoskeletal diseases. Collaborators: Parker Hannifin Corp., Bertec Corp., Case Western Reserve University and the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland: $2.1 million for its Development of a Quantitative Analysis System for Stem Cells project, which focuses on research commercialization of non-embryonic stem cells from umbilical cord blood as part of a Food and Drug Administration-licensed therapy to help some transplant patients and for testing. Collaborators: Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cleveland Cord Blood Center, BioInVision, Athersys (NASDAQ: ATHX), PerkinElmer, Thermogenesis (NASDAQ: KOOL), GE Healthcare (NYSE: GE), Hospira and Lakeland Community College.

University of Cincinnati: $3 million for its project, The Ohio Center for Microfluidic Innovation — New Products and Competitive Manufacturing of Emerging Biomedical Applications. The project wants to study, make and commercialize microfluidics technology, which could generate more valuable test results from a much smaller fluid sample than current technology. National Academies reviewers suggested the project be scaled back to just its biomedical applications. Collaborators: Siloam Biosciences, Gamma Dynamics, Sun Chemical and EnMonT.

Third Frontier advisers and commissioners spent a lot of time Wednesday debating “continuity” issues among entrepreneurial support and pre-seed investment funds that already have received grants. Facing state budget challenges, the program limited awards to only organizations that have received past money:

Cleveland Clinic was awarded $2 million for its Ohio BioValidation Fund III, which will invest in promising early stage biomedical companies.

JumpStart Inc., the venture development organization in Cleveland that has invested in several biomedical and healthcare companies, will receive $4 million for operations and investments. JumpStart gets an additional $1.8 million for its bioscience and entrepreneurial network, which will provide entrepreneurial services to bioscience start-ups in the Northeast Ohio region. Collaborators: BioEnterprise, Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise and the Akron Global Business Accelerator.

North Coast Angel Fund II in Mayfield Heights is getting $2 million to invest in high-potential, early stage technology companies.

Ohio TechAngel Fund III in Columbus was awarded $825,000 to invest in early stage Ohio-based technology companies, with a strong emphasis on healthcare innovations and information technology.

TechColumbus is getting $500,000 to continue investing in early-to-late-stage technologystart-ups in Central Ohio. Focus areas of the fund are bioscience, information technology and advanced materials.

Third Frontier commissioners put off votes on three more entrepreneurial support and pre-seed fund grant proposals, asking for more information with plans to vote on those proposals in June.

As for next year’s fiscal budget, the commissioners plan to award $20 million to entrepreneurial support and pre-seed funds, as well as $7 million to both biomedical and medical imaging grant-seekers. The commissioners also budgeted $8 million for a new Wright Center Success Fund, which will invest operating dollars in existing centers of innovation.

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