Austen BioInnovation Institute Launches New Phase to Accelerate Biomedical Innovation

  • New Board Structure Reaffirms Commitment to Improving Region’s Innovation Culture
  • Support Deemed “Critical Piece” to Evolution of Akron’s Biomedical Corridor
  • ABIA Aligns Assets Around Core Competencies in Biomaterials for Medical Use, Invention Acceleration and Advanced Medical Simulation

The Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA) announced today the next phase of its growth into a center to stimulate healthcare innovation in Northeast Ohio. To accelerate its impact on the region’s biomedical economy, ABIA’s energies will concentrate on efforts to stimulate product innovation and commercialization, as well as develop the next generation of healthcare workers through advanced simulation training. In addition, ABIA’s Board of Directors is being restructured to include some of ABIA’s founding members and external members with relevant industry and leadership experience.

Akron Children’s Hospital, Summa Health System, The University of Akron, Knight Foundation and FirstEnergy Foundation will continue to have representation on the Board of Directors of ABIA. Akron General Health System and Northeast Ohio Medical School will participate on a fee-for-service basis and will no longer have representatives serving on the board. Up to three new external board members will be added this year.

“The founding members have been invaluable in the contributions that helped make ABIA a nationally-recognized center for patient-centered innovation. Without their efforts, we would not be where we are today,” said ABIA President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Frank L. Douglas.  “We now embark on a new phase in ABIA’s development, as we expand our impact on product innovation and workforce training and development.”

During ABIA’s initial phase, access to its comprehensive services, expertise and facilities were reserved for only the founding institutions. The new strategic plan allows for ABIA to transform from a “build it” phase to “capitalize on it” phase and market the unique resources to targeted individuals and organizations to capture revenue opportunities. Targets include medical device and advance materials companies, healthcare systems, firms interested in entering medical markets, individual inventors and entrepreneurs, as well as colleges and universities.

ABIA was founded more than five years ago upon the vision and collaboration of Akron’s healthcare, corporate and higher education leadership and was fueled by the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and FirstEnergy Foundation. ABIA has helped the City of Akron create an unmatched asset in its Biomedical Corridor and has initiated medical innovation programs that have attracted regional, statewide and national attention.

During ABIA’s first years, accomplishments have included:

  • Contributing to the creation of nearly 450 jobs
  • Assisting in the creation of eight new start-up companies
  • Opening a new headquarters that is a combination of research, product development and training facilities unique to Northeast Ohio and among the leading centers of its kind in the country
  • Increasing potential product invention disclosures from an historical average of three per year to an annual average of 100 from its healthcare partners the three hospitals
  • More than 10,500 learning interactions with first responders, medical students, physicians and allied healthcare professionals since May 2012
  • Receiving national recognition and a $2.2 million grant for its “Innovative Solutions for Invention Xceleration” (ISIX) method, in collaboration with The University of Akron Research Foundation, that was heralded by the U.S. Commerce Department, National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation as one of the nation’s best approaches to technology commercialization and entrepreneurship
  • Leading, at the request of a then-White House official, the creation of the Value-driven Engineering and U.S. Global Competitiveness initiative, a public-private coalition made up of leaders from industry, academia and the public and private sectors working to retain the United States’ lead in medical device development, innovation and jobs
  • Securing $1.5 million in funding from the Centers for Disease Control for a unique community approach to reduce the burden of disease and cost of healthcare
  • Establishing research, innovation and commercialization agreements  with the Food and Drug Administration, and like-minded entrepreneurial institutions such as Slovenia’s Centre of Excellence for Polymer Materials and Technologies, China’s Beijing Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Center and Ohio’s St. Vincent Charity Medical Center and Lorain County Community College

“It has been a pleasure helping Dr. Douglas and ABIA’s professionals establish this organization as a cornerstone of the region’s and state’s culture of biomedical innovation,” said Akron Children’s Hospital President and Chief Executive Bill Considine, who serves as ABIA’s board chairman. “The support of our local leaders and of the Knight and FirstEnergy foundations is indicative of ABIA’s great value. Its impact on our economy and the healthcare system will continue to grow. The new board structure is a critical piece of our strategy to work with some of the very best people in this region’s medical and higher education community.”

ABIA’s new alignment will further leverage its core competencies and will maximize the organization’s impact on the region’s healthcare community and overall patient care, Douglas said.

“ABIA is dedicated to finding solutions to healthcare problems, bolstering the region’s healthcare innovation culture and building upon our region’s growing national reputation for medical excellence,” Douglas said.  “We are aggressively seeking to increase our impact and influence by expanding partnerships with new industrial, healthcare and educational partners in the region and across the globe.”

About Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron

The Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA) – an exceptional collaboration of Akron Children’s Hospital, FirstEnergy Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Summa Health System and The University of Akron – brings innovative minds together to create economic and personal vitality by inspiring patient-centered discovery and invention. Through its unique cross-disciplinary collaborations, the ABIA partnership accelerates the time from idea to commercialization of new technologies and solutions by gathering scientists, physicians, engineers, researchers and entrepreneurs in the biomedical product and polymer science industries. ABIA works to secure Ohio’s economic future by delivering solutions through its unique assets and expertise in the areas of advanced biomaterials and polymers for medical applications, award-winning invention and innovation acceleration, strategic regulatory support and advanced medical simulation solutions for education, training and usability testing.