April 21, 2016
The University of Michigan has launched the Monroe-Brown Seed Fund, a new funding vehicle designed to advance the process of transitioning commercially viable engineering and medical research projects to market.
The fund, approved Thursday by the Board of Regents, is a collaborative effort between the College of Engineering's Center for Entrepreneurship and the Medical School's Fast Forward Medical Innovation program.
With a $3 million gift from the Monroe-Brown Foundation, the Monroe-Brown Seed Fund will award seed money to biomedical startup companies that are joint efforts between the engineering and medical schools. Such seed grants are designed to accelerate the commercialization of biomedical research, to provide educational opportunities for researchers and students, and, ultimately, to positively impact patient care.
The fund will provide resources for the university's biomedical startup companies with marketplace potential.
"With this generous gift from the Monroe-Brown Foundation, shepherded by foundation president and U-M engineering alum, Robert M. Brown, we can expand the impact of innovations birthed from the College of Engineering's historic partnership with the Medical School," said David C. Munson Jr., the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering. "The fund will give our school additional ways to apply our faculty and students' illustrious research to solving society's complex problems in health care."
"We are thrilled for the support and the commitment of the Monroe-Brown Foundation to medical innovation," said Dr. Marschall Runge, executive vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Medical School. "The new fund will help us attract and retain world-class researchers as well as biomedical entrepreneurs."
The fund will invest in startup companies such as those developing medical devices, diagnostics, therapeutic delivery systems, health information technology, and digital health products.
The fund will be run by Program Manager Hirak Parikh, a biomedical engineer. Parikh's previous research and professional positions focus on neuroscience applications and products.
Parikh holds a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, and Master of Science degrees in electrical engineering systems and biomedical engineering from U-M. He also has an undergraduate degree in electronics and telecommunications from the University of Pune in India.
The Monroe-Brown Foundation is dedicated to promoting an environment where scholars and students can positively contribute to economic growth and workforce development in Michigan. Brown, the foundation's president, has spent 45 years working with more than 40 venture capital investments in the areas of banking, manufacturing and real estate. Based in Portage, Michigan, he graduated from U-M with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering and spearheaded this partnership with the university.
The Center for Entrepreneurship provides academic programs, commercialization training and other resources for students and faculty pursuing entrepreneurial ambitions. CFE's mission is to empower entrepreneurial spirit at the university and catalyze innovation in the state of Michigan, in particular. Its teaching philosophy focuses on experiential learning with an emphasis on developing an entrepreneurial mindset.
Fast Forward Medical Innovation nurtures commercialization and entrepreneurship at the medical school and beyond. FFMI offers a holistic approach to biomedical innovation for both faculty researchers and potential external partners to help discoveries make the transition to the clinic, with the ultimate goal of positively impacting human health.