Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron Receives $2.6 Million Ohio Third Frontier Grant for Biomedical Technology Development

AKRON, Ohio – The Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA) has received a more than $2.6 million research and commercialization grant for biomedical sensor technology from The Wright Center for Sensor Systems Engineering (WCSSE) through the Ohio Third Frontier initiative. The ABIA project is one of six grants recently announced, totaling more than $17 million, focused on the development and commercialization of sensors and sensor technologies, with the ultimate goal of creating high-impact technology jobs for Ohio.

ABIA is working with seven Ohio institutions including The University of Akron, one of its founding members, on the biomedical sensor project as well as the Bertec Corporation, Case Western Reserve University, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland Veterans Administration, Future Path Medical, Ohio Willow Wood and Parker Hannifin Corporation.

The more than $2.6 million grant to ABIA – an exceptional collaboration of Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron General Health System, Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy, Summa Health System, The University of Akron and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation – is focused on patient-centered innovation and commercialization meant to improve patient care by developing new sensor technologies that diagnose medical conditions and monitor patient health.

The project – “Diagnostic Engineering Technologies for Evaluating Connective Tissues” (DETECT) – concentrates on patients at risk for chronic wounds and/or connective tissue degradation, such as elderly patients with diminished fracture healing capabilities, athletes susceptible to ligament injuries, diabetic patients who are at risk for skin breakdown, individuals with vascular wall abnormalities and women with stress incontinence problems. The platform includes five projects addressing the profound need for sensor systems for diagnosing, treating and monitoring connective tissue disorders. The patient-centered projects include creating sensor materials to solve issues relating to bladder control, wound healing, diabetic foot ulcers, skin health on amputee patients and pathomechanics of connective vascular tissues. Through these projects, ABIA and its partners hope to increase patients’ abilities to maintain a near-normal quality of life.

The collaboration includes some of the nation’s best expertise in medical product innovation from medical device design to advanced platforms for technology development, control systems and smart materials. By assembling the talents and resources of the project’s clinicians, scientists and engineers, DETECT will provide the infrastructure for developing new technologies for multiple sensor needs in hopes of bringing new sensors to market within the next three years. The commercialization project is expected to generate licensing revenue, new business and jobs for project partners, and Ohio-based spin-off companies, while positioning the state to have a competitive advantage in training of the biomedical sensor workforce of the future.

Of the more than $2.6 million awarded to the DETECT project, more than half will support Akron-based research and work. Taking the lead for ABIA on the DETECT platform is the institute’s Medical Device Development Center (MDDC) led by Dr. Brian Davis, who will play a major role in DETECT’s management and future progress. MDDC is one of ABIA’s four Centers of Innovation and is dedicated to providing a unique resource for companies and researchers to design, test, synthesize and manufacture new materials and healthcare applications of biomaterials.

WCSSE, headquartered at Cleveland State University, was established by the Ohio Third Frontier initiative, which promotes high-technology economic development and job development in the state. The Ohio Third Frontier program targets investments to support technology areas that represent Ohio’s key competitive opportunities including those in advanced and alternative energy, biomedical, advanced materials, instruments, controls and electronics, and advanced propulsion.