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Member News: C.C. Eship / NACCE Journal Summer/Fall 2009

Nonprofit’s Access Network Helps Biomedical Entrepreneurs

Friday, September 18, 2009   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
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A nonprofit headquartered in Hartford, CT, is helping entrepreneurs–including students coming out of community colleges–to move their innovative biomedical technology ideas from concept to reality. Beacon Alliance’s mission is to facilitate the development of new medical technology. To achieve this goal, the nonprofit encourages partnering, fosters collaborative research, and conducts seminars on important topics for entrepreneurs such as intellectual property protection and FDA regulations.

Beacon Alliance has formed a preferential access network that links more than 35 academic, medical, and corporate interests. Beacon operates primarily as a facilitator, connecting its members with the full complement of the joint resources available through the network.

"The entrepreneurs who come to us are technically sharp but often have little or no experience in business,” says Joseph Bronzino, Ph.D., P.E., who founded Beacon Alliance in 1997. "We help them understand the pieces they have to put in place to set up a company and move through the various stages of commercialization, including getting a patent. Then we put them in contact with a network that can help them put those pieces together.

"We provide a very important service in the form of due diligence,” explains Bronzino. "Entrepreneurs really need an analysis of their idea in terms of what’s already in the marketplace and whether their idea is novel enough to become marketable and profitable. We assemble a committee to conduct that kind of analysis

"When we think there is a sufficient market for the device an entrepreneur wants to develop, we steer them towards attorneys who can help them protect their intellectual property,” Bronzino adds. "We encourage them to develop a business plan and an executive summary, and we arrange meetings with angel investors and with venture capitalists to see if those funders would be interested in investing in this product and this company. Finally, we help them apply for a grant to build a prototype through the federal government’s Small Business Innovation Research Program.”

Entrepreneurial opportunities abound in the biomedical technology field, which is one of the 21st century’s growth industries. Typical of the projects that Beacon Alliance has been involved with is a wound closure device; the nonprofit helped the group behind this product link with a hospital to do animal studies and once those were completed, Beacon helped them write an SBIR grant request to support preclinical trials. Another project has involved a dental product that improves the efficacy of antibiotics injected into the gums for the treatment of infection. Beacon helped the entrepreneurs behind this idea set up a company and is now looking for angel investors to help the company do part of the product development.

Beacon Alliance operates primarily in the Knowledge Corridor that runs from Hartford north through Springfield and Northampton, MA, but also has links with resources in Philadelphia, Boston, New Jersey, Ohio, and Puerto Rico. Bronzino welcomes the opportunity to consult with people from other parts of the country on how they might set up a similar organization to promote biomedical entrepreneurism in their area. To contact Bronzino, e-mail him at joseph.bronzino@beaconalliance.org or call toll-free 877-723-2266.


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