Northwestern Mentorship Program to Accelerate Biomedical Commercialization

July 17, 2017

Studies have shown that companies often fail because they build something that nobody wants to pay for.

To help biomedical entrepreneurs at Northwestern understand the innovation ecosystem, identify key stakeholders, and refine the value proposition of their product or services, the University is pioneering a new four-week mentorship program.

INVOForward is designed to accelerate biomedical commercialization, such as medical devices, therapeutics, and health information technology, on both campuses.

“We are intending to increase entrepreneurship by helping potential or current biomedical translation and entrepreneurship teams focus on the customer discovery process,” says Alicia Löffler, executive director and associate provost for innovation and new ventures (INVO).

Löffler is one of three faculty leads for the program. She is joined by colleagues Donald Lloyd-Jones, preventive medicine and senior associate dean for clinical and translational research, and Thomas Shanley, pediatrics and chief research officer of the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute.

INVOForward teams may consist of one to three people and must include at least one Northwestern University or Northwestern Medicine faculty member, physician, clinical resident/fellow, staff, or graduate student.

Applications for the first cohort — which will focus on medical device commercialization — should be submitted by August 1. Programming will begin in September.

INVOForward stems from a collaborative effort with the University of Michigan’s Fast Forward Program, created in part by Shanley. The program is modeled after, and will expand upon, efforts such as I-Corps, a collaboration between the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide NIH-funded researchers training that helps them evaluate the commercial potential of their scientific discoveries. The goal is to accelerate biomedical innovations into applied health technologies.

The four weeks of programming include a kickoff session, office-hour support, three virtual classes, and a final presentation. An essential expectation is that each team will conduct at least 30 interviews. For more information, click here.

New Funding Opportunity

The Innovation and News Ventures Office has announced a new Northwestern partnership with the NIH Center for Accelerated Innovations at Cleveland Clinic (NCAI-CC).

NCAI-CC funding is available for promising emerging technologies directed at diagnosis, treatment, or management of cardiovascular, pulmonary, blood, or sleep-related disorders. The center is seeking projects such as therapeutics (e.g. drugs, biologics), diagnostics, diagnostic systems, devices, tools, etc., to facilitate their translation into commercialized products that improve patient care and health. NCAI-CC grants will be aligned with other INVO funding initiatives, such as NewCures and N.XT.

The next round of funding closes August 3.

Further details for this opportunity, including request for applications and the required content for letters of intent may found at the NCAI-CC website,

For more information, contact Dimitra Georganopoulou ( or Vara Prasad Josyula (