Marshfield Clinic Aims to Boost Tech Transfer With Cleveland’s Help

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in Cleveland Clinic, and it will now have access to Cleveland Clinic’s team of more than 70 people dedicated to commercializing research, Barwick said. A Cleveland Clinic employee will move to Marshfield later this year, acting as a sort of case file manager for each discovery or invention reported by Marshfield Clinic staff. At that point, experts at Cleveland Clinic will vet the idea, ensuring it’s a novel one that isn’t already patented, analyzing the market potential, and guiding it to potential licensing or spinout in collaboration with the inventor and Marshfield Clinic.

“Now we can do that very quickly and with a high degree of certainty that we’ve made the right decision as to whether or not it is a technology we can commercialize,” Barwick said. “To some degree we’ve created a very large department of resources just by virtue of the relationship, without having to create duplicated positions in-house here, which would take a long time to [form] that structure.”

Another benefit is access to the proverbial Rolodex of angel investors, VCs, and other stakeholders that Cleveland Clinic has built up, said Brian Kolonick, a project manager and new business developer for the alliance. Those connections could be a boon for an organization like Marshfield Clinic, which is relatively isolated, despite being centrally located within driving distance of Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, and Madison.

Undoubtedly there are always challenges in funding innovation, especially at the proof of concept stage, no matter the location, Kolonick said.

“We’re in Cleveland, not in Boston or San Francisco, where you traditionally find VC dollars,” Kolonick said. “But we’ve been able to get a reputation and drive investment. I think the same will hold true for Marshfield.”

Marshfield Clinic probably won’t see the first commercial fruits of this partnership for at least three years, a reasonable timeline for most new technologies to hit the market, Kolonick said. Early products could include those coming out of Marshfield’s information technology research; Kolonick noted that Marshfield created its own electronic medical records system more than 20 years ago, and it has since formed a software services company that helps customers manage health information and patient data. For products that require clinical trials and more federal oversight, like medical devices and drugs, taking one discovery to market could require more than a decade.

Streamlining that process was one of the key aims when the Healthcare Innovation Alliance launched in 2011 with a partnership between Cleveland Clinic and MedStar Health, a $4.2 billion not-for-profit and the largest healthcare provider in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., regions.

The coalition—which now includes the likes of University of Notre Dame and North Shore-LIJ, a New York-area healthcare system that is one of the nation’s largest—is unusual because few organizations have the capability of Cleveland Clinic to assemble this type of group, said Lita Nelsen, director of the technology licensing office at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an Xconomist.

Cleveland Clinic Innovations, the nationally ranked health system’s commercialization arm, has licensed 450 technologies and spun out 66 companies that have raised more than $750 million in equity investments since its launch 14 years ago.

So far MedStar has licensed … Next Page »

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