Stony Brook University's Center for Biotechnology has been selected as one of eight startup accelerators in the nation to participate in a federal program designed to identify and support solutions to health security threats.
The program aims to provide financial resources to early-stage science innovations in the hopes of creating commercially viable businesses that can tackle the issues of early detection of infection, and early detection and treatment of sepsis.
Sepsis is the body's extreme response to infection and can be life-threatening. It is a leading cause of hospitalization in America and leads to 250,000 deaths annually, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Sepsis cases could "skyrocket after a bioterrorism attack or pandemic," HHS said.
The program is an effort on the part of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a division of HHS . The initiative, called DRIVe (for Division of Research, Innovation and Ventures), will identify private investors as well as provide federal investment dollars for promising ventures.
"Accelerators are part of a new business-friendly approach," Eric Hargan, deputy secretary for HHS, said in a statement. "This approach will help startups and other businesses shape the next generation of lifesaving technology and transform health security. That innovation is crucial to protecting Americans and saving lives."
The Center for Biotechnology, launched in 1983, was created to help foster and grow biotech companies on Long Island and in the state. The center will review science research on Long Island and in New York City that fits BARDA’s mission, and will connect potential startups with product development and business support services.
“We’re going to go out and scour the region,” said Clinton Rubin, director of the center. Rubin likened the accelerator’s task to that of gold prospectors. “We know there’s lots of gold out there that’s relevant to our health and security.”
As part of its admittance into the program, the Stony Brook center will receive $100,000 a year for five years in grant funding, which it will use to hire staff with experience in identifying and starting research-based businesses.
“There may be science out there that even the scientists don’t recognize are new perspectives,” Rubin said. “It’s a huge opportunity to bring commercial-level resources to our backyard.”
The other accelerators in the federal initiative include locations in Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston and Philadelphia.