January 16, 2018
Dear Colleagues,
Happy New Year! 2017 was another exciting year for the Fast Forward Medical Innovation (FFMI) team as we continued to expand our program and push the boundaries of biomedical innovation to help accelerate ideas to impact. We invite you to CLICK HERE to browse our fiscal year 2017 metrics and cumulative impact since our 2014 launch.
Commercialization Funding and Mentorship: This past fiscal year, there were 175 invention reports from U-M Medical School investigators, an increase from previous years due in large part to FFMI's early and mid-stage funding programs, Mi-Kickstart and Mi-TRAC (in partnership with U-M Tech Transfer). In total, FFMI has directly supported 80+ life science technology projects with funding and mentorship resulting in seven new companies and more than $13 million in follow-on funding thus far. We recently received a renewal from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for the MTRAC for Life Sciences Innovation Hub, a $4 million annual funding program supporting biomedical innovations across all U-M schools and colleges, and now non-profit Universities and Health Systems across the entire state of Michigan.
Specialty funds like the U-M Therapeutic Innovation Fund (in partnership with the Michigan Center for Therapeutic Innovation) and the U-M Fast Forward GI Innovation Fund continue to accelerate new projects. The Monroe-Brown Seed Fund, co-managed by FFMI and the College of Engineering's Center for Entrepreneurship, now has 8 companies in its portfolio and 6 out of 8 have already received follow-on funding/co-investments.
Business Development & Industry Partnerships: The Medical School received over $98.1 million in industry funding in FY 2017 - 17% of the school's overall research funding and a 100% increase since 2012. The FFMI Business Development (BD) team, and key collaborators like the Business Engagement Center, helped develop novel industry partnerships with our investigators engaged in translational research. This year, the BD team helped facilitate many strategic relationships, including a collaboration with AstraZeneca that targets chronic kidney disease.
Commercialization Education: The FFMI Program Accelerating Commercialization Education (PACE) continues to add new programs and opportunities for learners at all levels. To date, over 2,500 participants have been a part of 65+ commercialization education programs, including the FFMI fastPACE Train-the-Trainer course now available to institutions across the nation. FFMI is working closely with the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, the NIH's NCATS and its CTSA program to scale the FFMI fastPACE program to CTSAs across the country.
We are very excited to work with the Medical School's Program in Basic Sciences (PIBS) to create two credit-bearing graduate level commercialization education courses for graduate students and postdocs. And U-M's Path of Excellence in Innovation and Entrepreneurship continues to expand its offerings to medical students. This year, FFMI was honored to receive a highly competitive $500,000 i6 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration's Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program to continue to expand our portfolio of scalable regional education and training programs.
New this year, we launched a blog with a focus on making innovation and entrepreneurship a natural and expected academic behavior. Please visit our latest
post that discusses the barriers faced by innovators in University-based Academic
Medical Centers and strategies on how to overcome them.
These and other success stories would not have been possible without the continued support of organizations like the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the William Davidson Foundation, the U-M Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, and the Medical School's Office of Research.
2018 holds an incredible amount of potential to make an even greater impact on biomedical research and patient impact. We look forward to exploring and creating more groundbreaking opportunities and initiatives that support our colleagues and external partners as they move their ideas down the commercialization path, with the ultimate goal of improved patient care.
Best regards,

Kevin Ward, M.D.
Executive Director
Fast Forward Medical Innovation
Connie Chang, M.B.A.
Managing Director
Fast Forward Medical Innovation

Registration Open for FFMI fastPACE and FFMI fastPACE Train-the-Trainer
Courses start March 2018

Do you have an innovative idea? Are you looking for funding, collaboration, and mentorship? FFMI is launching the 8th cohort of the FFMI fastPACE course on March 16, 2018. The 4-week course is designed to equip biomedical faculty and researchers with the knowledge and tools to navigate the initial process of commercialization. 

In parallel with the FFMI fastPACE course, FFMI, in partnership with the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR), has also opened enrollment for the Spring 2018 FFMI fastPACE Train-the-Trainer program. Piloted March of 2017, outside institutions now have the opportunity to observe our experts and biomedical research teams to learn how to launch the acclaimed FFMI fastPACE course at their home institutions. 

U-M GI Innovation Fund RFP Available
Proposal submissions due March 30

Are you a researcher working in the GI or other related fields and interested in innovation and commercialization?

The U-M Fast Forward Gastrointestinal (GI) Innovation Fund is a three-year, $500,000+ fund supported by a donation from entrepreneur alumna Mary Petrovich and matched by the U-M Medical School's Department of Internal Medicine and its Division of Gastroenterology, as well as the College of Engineering, where Ms. Petrovich received her undergraduate degree. 

Proposal submission deadline is March 30, 2018

There are two tiers of funding available. Tier I Awards will be in the range of $25-$50K and fund projects that address a discrete milestone that is critical to the advancement of research to the point of product development. Tier II Awards will be $75-$100K and fund projects with specific milestones for proof-of-concept and later-stage translational studies (ranges are estimates and actual funding levels will be project-specific).

CLICK HERE for the Tier I Award RFP.
CLICK HERE for the Tier II Award RFP.

Questions? Email Visha Krishnan, FMFI Senior Business Analyst, or call 734-764-2891.
Mi-Kickstart Proposals Due February 1
Early-stage funding for biomedical innovation

Fast Forward Medical Innovation is accepting proposals for the Mi-Kickstart early-stage funding program

Mi-Kickstart Awards, made possible by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, MTRAC for Life Sciences Innovation Hub, the William Davidson Foundation, the U-M Medical School Office of Research, and the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research, offer early-stage funding to biomedical researchers across the state of Michigan. This award is aimed to enhance the commercial potential of a technology owned by any Michigan-based non-profit to the point of demonstration of utility and possible inclusion in Mi-TRAC or other research funding programs.

Applications are due on Thursday, February 1.

Questions? Please contact MTRAC for Life Sciences Tech Mining Specialist, Michelle Larkin or MTRAC for Life Sciences Tech Mining Specialist, Sara Johnson.
Mi-Kickstart Proposal Workshop
Webinar provides help with early-stage project funding application

On Monday, January 8, FFMI hosted a webinar that walked through the Mi-Kickstart early-stage funding award proposal, and offered guidance and tips for a successful submission. CLICK HERE to see a video of the workshop.

Participants gained valuable insight, including:
  • How to write a successful proposal with step-by-step instructions from the FFMI team
  • The opportunity to view funded proposals to analyze successful strategies
  • The chance to ask specific questions directly to the FFMI team of commercialization pathway experts
  • Individual project-specific coaching, including the opportunity to follow up directly for additional guidance
Mi-Kickstart Awards are given quarterly, with proposals due November 1, February 1, May 1, and August 1 of each year. Stay tuned for more information about the next Mi-Kickstart proposal workshop.

Questions? Please contact MTRAC for Life Sciences Tech Mining Specialist, Michelle Larkin or MTRAC for Life Sciences Tech Mining Specialist, Sara Johnson
On the Road with FFMI 

Connie Chang, FFMI Managing Director; Brad Martin, MTRAC for Life Sciences Commercialization Program Director; and Hirak Parikh, Monroe-Brown Biomedical Seed Fund Manger, along with representatives from the U-M Tech Transfer Office, attended the J.P. Morgan Heathcare Conference in San Francisco. The team had the opportunity to meet with a number of groups including venture capital, strategic industry partners, and academic innovation organizations, and promote U-M biomedical innovation programs and opportunities for collaboration. 
Cancer Vaccine Technology for Enhanced Immunotherapy
Potent nano-vaccine strategy shows promising results

Cancer affects millions of people in the United States and is among the leading causes of death worldwide.
Cancer immunotherapy, driven by the recent success of immune checkpoint inhibitors, is revolutionizing cancer treatments. However, only a subset of patients currently responds to immune checkpoint inhibitors. Thus, there is a critical need for new powerful approaches for cancer immunotherapy.
University of Michigan team Anna Schwendeman, Ph.D., and James Moon, Ph.D., are targeting antigen delivery as an alternative, complementary approach to immunotherapy. By using a novel synthetic high-density lipoprotein (sHDL) nanodisc mixed with antigen peptides and adjuvants, they produced a potent cancer vaccine that is better able to stimulate the immune system than traditional vaccine approaches.
"We evaluated different nanoparticle vaccine systems, but came across many challenges," says Dr. Schwendeman. "With this new nanodisc-based vaccine, we hope to elicit anti-tumor immunity regardless of pre-existing immunity, broaden T-cell responses, leading to improved patient response rates, and establish immunity against relapse."
The team's data has shown that the sHDL nanodiscs enhanced delivery of antigens to draining lymph nodes by 28 fold (compared with the soluble vaccine group) and stimulated strong anti-tumor T-cell immunity. Importantly, the nanodiscs, in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors, eliminated tumors in multiple mouse models.
"The MTRAC funds allowed us to optimize the nanodisc formulation, benchmark the nanodiscs against other gold standards, and obtain crucial proof-of-concept data demonstrating potent efficacy of our nanodisc technology against large, hard-to-treat tumors," says Dr. Moon. "With these exciting results in hand, we were able to garner additional financial support from the Monroe Brown Seed Fund and start a new biotech company, EVOQ Therapeutics, LLC. We are now focusing our efforts to translate our results to the clinic."
The University of Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) for Life Sciences Innovation Hub is supported by the U-M Medical School, U-M Tech Transfer Office, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and works to "fast forward" projects that have a high potential for commercial success, with the ultimate goal of positively impacting human health. This project is just one of 11 projects in the 2017 cohort funded by MTRAC. In 2014, the program funded 11 teams for early commercialization development, while 11 teams were funded in 2015 and 12 projects were funded in 2016.
In Other News

The U-M Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program announced its 2018 Call for Proposals. The Coulter Program funds collaborative translational research projects between Engineering and Clinical faculty co-investigators. For more information, visit the website or download Coulter proposal instructions and the application form here. The deadline is February 2, 2018. For questions, please contact Thomas Marten,
Coulter Program Director, at tmarten@umich.edu or 734-647-1680. 
MEDC U-M Tech Transfer U-M Medical School Office of Research

U-M Medical School
UMMS Office of Research
Medicine at Michigan
U-M Business Engagement Center
U-M Center for Entrepreneurship
U-M Tech Transfer
Innovate Blue
U-M Main page
ffmioffice@umich.edu    (734) 615-5060
Office of Research
Fast Forward Medical Innovation is part of the Office of Research, where our mission is to foster an environment of innovation and efficiency that serves the U-M Medical School community and supports biomedical science from insight to impact.