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The NIH's Centers for Accelerated Innovations (NCAI)

Why the NCAI?

The NIH Centers for Accelerated Innovations program was initiated in response to a recommendation by the Enhancing the Return on the NHLBI SBIR/STTR Investment Team (ERNSIT) to develop strategies to provide pre-SBIR funding opportunities. The NCAI will specifically address the gap in the commercialization pipeline between scientific discovery and company formation, supporting the long term goal of more rapidly and effectively moving breakthrough innovations to available products that will have health, economic, and societal impact.

NCAI Working Group Meeting

The Accelerated Innovations Program Working Group (AIPWG) convened November 1 – 2, 2010 to advise the NHLBI in designing a grant program that will establish a number of Centers across the nation. The NIH Centers for Accelerated Innovations will address the knowledge and funding gaps for the early steps needed to translate novel discoveries and technologies into new diagnostics, devices, therapeutics, and tools for patient care by providing:

  • Pilot funding, based upon a review process for scientific merit and commercial potential
  • Resources and expertise, including
    • business plan development
    • market research
    • IP protection
  • Educational and networking activities and linkages to local ecosystem resources

To achieve these objectives, each Center will focus on:

  • Investigators with research projects that have progressed to a point where a potential commercial product can be envisioned but additional development efforts are required to demonstrate feasibility or proof of concept and commercial potential
  • Integrating and leveraging project management, intellectual property, business and technology development, and new venture expertise
  • Building alliances and developing sustainable relationships with local ecosystem stakeholders and leaders
  • Providing educational and mentoring opportunities in entrepreneurship targeted at the needs of the innovator.

The Working Group comprised government, industry, academia, and business experts having a broad range of experience in biotechnology development and commercialization. The program will target technologies and therapeutics that are poised for proof of concept, prototype development, and feasibility.

The working group made recommendations crucial to defining the Center’s framework and structure; key components and their functions; staging and interaction of the components; critical processes and resources for success; level of funding; and staffing and expertise. Based on the working group recommendations, the NHLBI has developed a Request for Applications to establish these Centers.

Last Updated May 2012

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