A reconsideration of university gap funds for promoting biomedical entrepreneurship

Everett G. Hall, Thomas M. Krenning, Robert J. Reardon, Emre Toker, Michael S. Kinch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The last 50 years have seen an increasing dependence on academic institutions to develop and commercialize new biomedical innovations, a responsibility for which many universities are ill-equipped. To address this need, we created LEAP, an asset development and gap fund program at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL). Beyond awarding funds to promising projects, this program aimed to promote a culture of academic entrepreneurship, and thus improve WUSTL technology transfer, by providing university inventors with individualized consulting and industry expert feedback. The purpose of this work is to document the structure of the LEAP program and evaluate its impact on the WUSTL entrepreneurial ecosystem. Our analysis utilizes program data, participant surveys, and WUSTL technology transfer office records to demonstrate that LEAP consistently attracted new investigators and that the training provided by the program was both impactful and highly valued by participants. We also show that an increase in annual WUSTL start-up formation during the years after LEAP was established and implicate the program in this increase. Taken together, our results illustrate that programs like LEAP could serve as a model for other institutions that seek to support academic entrepreneurship initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere28
JournalJournal of Clinical and Translational Science
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 31 2022

Keywords

  • Academic entrepreneurship
  • commercialization
  • gap fund
  • start-up
  • technology transfer

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