Simbex Designs Bioentrepreneurship Educational Series for Dartmouth Innovations Accelerator for Cancer

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The Dartmouth Innovations Accelerator for Cancer (DIAC), a new initiative of Dartmouth College and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, collaborated with Simbex to offer a course on Bioentrepreneurship during the 2021 Spring semester. Building on a strong foundation of commercialization education, workshops and individualized assistance plans over the eleven years of federally funded programming from the NIH-funded Center for Translational Research and Engineering Advances and Technology (TREAT) and the FDA-funded New England Pediatric Device Consortium (NEPDC), the Simbex team developed a 10-week curriculum to provide education and guidance to cancer researchers.

“It was a natural choice to turn to Simbex to provide these researchers with the instruction they need to translate their discoveries into life-saving cancer therapies,” says Barry Schweitzer, Dartmouth Technology Transfer’s Senior Business Development and Licensing Manager who initiated the development of the Accelerator.

Simbex Commercialization Services Consultant Angela Smalley, PhD led the construction and execution of the course. The inspiration for the DIAC course design came from previous iterations of the Commercialization Advancement Cohort, a multi-unit online educational program focusing on business development milestones for medical devices, funded by NIH-TREAT and the Small Business Administration, which had also been led by Dr. Smalley. Each unit of the DIAC course consisted of a pre- recorded lecture by a multidisciplinary team of industry experts, relevant articles to read, an assignment, all of which could be completed asynchronously to accommodate the professional participants’ busy schedules. Once per week, a large-group discussion session provided an anchor-point to the unit and functioned as a time for participants to interact. Discussion topics coordinated with the unit content and were an opportunity for Q&A with guest specialists. For some course units, separate lectures and readings were prepared for entrepreneurs working in either the medical device or pharmaceutical spaces. Simbex tapped the expertise of Celdara Medical CEO Jake Reder, PhD, to provide the pharma-specific content.

“It was an honor leading a course for such brilliant scientists and I appreciated the opportunity to provide this high-value foundational content to the Accelerator participants,” Dr. Smalley says. “It is inspiring to think that we helped equip these researchers to take their innovations beyond the lab and apply their new knowledge and skill sets to be successful in innovation, entrepreneurship, and commercialization.”

Throughout the course, participants created step-by-step, multiyear plans for the development of their innovations and at the conclusion participated in a high-stakes pitch competition, with three awards of $300K, $100K and $50K provided by Accelerator donors. “I had a great time participating in the accelerator,” says Matthew LeBoeuf, MD, PhD, Section Chief and Director of Mohs Micrographic Surgery at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and co-founder of startup Arctic AI. “Learning and applying new concepts, our team worked to build a foundation for our company that will help us navigate the business world as we work to translate our clinical research and experience into a real-life product that can help people. Along the way, I felt fortunate to interact with the team from Simbex and get feedback from experts involved in all facets of the process. Experiences like this highlight the incredible opportunities at Dartmouth and in the Upper Valley.”

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