News

February

 

Kelly Drew signs a license agreement between BeCool and OIPC. Photo by Mark Billingsley.
Kelly Drew signs a license agreement between BeCool and OIPC. Photo by Mark Billingsley.

BeCool Pharmaceutics is an Alaska-based small molecule drug development company, focused on creating therapeutics to modulate metabolism and body temperature by mimicking hibernation. It has the potential to improve outcomes for babies suffering from limited oxygen and blood to the brain; as well as possibly a medical condition known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).The therapeutic can help with the same problem for individuals who have suffered cardiac arrest or stroke; and it can reduce painful post-operative shivering.In January, BeCool Pharmaceutics founder Kelly Drew licensed a UAF-developed drug composition that aims to control shivering. Drew is a UAF faculty member and researcher at UAF’s Institute of Arctic Biology.  BeCool was ready to license the technology after completing the National Institutes of Health’s I-Corps program, which provided insights into the industry and regulatory environments as well as the likely market fit for the composition. The drug is a result of many years of research into animal hibernation. 

The licensed intellectual property will advance to BeCool’s lead technology, a combination of two new chemical entities recognized as a first in class thermolytic. The company seeks investors and partners to complete Investigational New Drug Application enabling studies for a pre-IND meeting and to supplement NIH Small Business Innovation Research phase II funding to support IND submission and first in human studies.

The temperature management market is projected to reach $3.0 billion by 2024 with acute care being the fastest-growing segment. Without an effective thermolytic to suppress shivering, high cost and difficulty of temperature management limits efficacy and access to this brain-saving technology. The path to successful adoption of any drug is long and challenging, but the potential positive impact of this drug is tremendous. 

Bottom-up market analysis estimates an annual serviceable obtainable market of $3B to generate $150M annually through earned royalties. The company is located adjacent to the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Dr. Drew, founder and CEO of BeCool, is a world expert in hibernation and neurocritical care and leads an NIH-funded UAF program focused on discovery and translation of druggable targets in hibernation.   

As a result of the agreement with UAF, BeCool Pharmaceutics LLC has exclusive license to patented technology for targeted temperature management for neurocritical care. With this agreement in hand, BeCool will seek investors for their drug development program. UAF has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in basic science and intellectual property protection for drug discovery based on hibernation. BeCool will develop this technology to first in human and phase 2 clinical trials. 

This effort marks the first time a UAF-developed drug composition has started down the path toward being adopted and used by the public and medical professionals. This technology stems from many years of hard work by countless individuals to build a successful biomedical research and curriculum program at UAF. Additionally, significant programmatic grant support from the National Institutes of Health – including the IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence,  Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence, Biomedical Learning and Student Training, and Accelerating Solutions for Commercialization and Entrepreneurial Development programs – has provided a stable foundation for the growth and success of biomedicine at UAF.

Read here for more information.

 

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Photo by Nigel Sharp.
Alaska's Foundational Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program has gone through a renovation over the holidays. We are actively seeking new participants who could benefit from a $2,500 travel grant to conduct market research for your idea.

 

Ideas can be super early (often this is better) and if you're not sure if you're a good fit (generally speaking.. ideas with a technical or technology-enabled component are great), we welcome you to apply regardless. Every applicant receives a free entrepreneurial consulting call with the University of Alaska's Entrepreneur in Residence, and will be offered access to further resources whatever the idea.

 Please send an email asking to "Learn more about I-Corps" to centerice@alaska.edu.

Lean Launch Workshop
A innovation group discusses their concept at the 2018 Lean Launch Workshop. Photo by JR Ancheta.

The Center ICE Seed Fund is offering two new ways to help entrepreneurs to succeed.  

In addition to offering the current grants for "nudges" of up to $25,000 to help innovators and entrepreneurs with the technical and commercial challenges they are solving, the two new programs are available this spring.

All of the programs can be applied for by visiting the website and sending a short proposal for funding. 

University Faculty Consulting - A simple way to get up to 10 hours of consulting time from a university faculty member or post-doc researcher to review your idea or problem you are trying to solve. We will assist with finding a qualified faculty member or student to work with and setting up the engagement contract.New program options include:

For more information on the seed fund, visit the website or contact centerice@alaska.edu.

 

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Image from getreferralmd.com.

Alaska Center ICE will be hosting a series of challenges for the Alaska innovative community to help solve.

The challenge topic areas include health technology, blue/ocean innovations, environmental and climate change solutions, and energy and logistics — problems that matter to Alaska's future economy and Alaskans wellbeing. 

Each Community Challenge will bring Alaska partners together to help identify the challenge topics and the criteria for competition winners.

Community Challenge winners will receive funding and assistance to work with partners to advance their ideas for further evaluation and validation. The first challenge will be in health care and will be announced in February.

Please contact us if you have a challenge area you think would be interesting for UA students and the Alaska community. Some sample competitions and updates can be found here.

Please join us for an exciting webinar offered specially for UAF researchers and those in other schools in the National Institute of Health Western Institutional Development Awardstates through the ASCEND Hub.

 When: Thursday, Feb. 27, 12 p.m. AK. 

 Register here or at www.ascendhub.org

 A webinar hosted by Montana State University will cover the key elements of the SBIR/STTR program and whether this source of non-dilutive funding may be right for you. It is designed to provide information to early-stage bio-medical researchers/companies to determine which federal agencies fund biomedical research as well as eligibility, strategies, tools, and partnerships you’ll want to consider before you begin.

 For more information, please contact Alexis Rhynard at aarhynard2@alaska.edu.

Aquagga
Photo by Nigel Sharp.

Aquagga Inc., completed the National NSF i-Corps program in December in Atlanta, Ga. The company is a UAF spin-out based on novel water/wastewater treatment technology developed by Jonathan Kamler, a current UAF Ph.D. candidate and his co-founders Nigel Sharp (UAF staff), and Brian Pinkard (University of Washington Ph.D. candidate).

 The i-Corps team, which included Arthur Nash (UAF Faculty), was awarded $50,000 to travel. They completed more than 130 customer discovery interviews spanning travel to numerous conferences within a short 6.5-week period across the country. The results have been a major pivot to their focus. The company is now actively pursuing product development and supporting grants such as SBIR/STTR awards for the most desirable solution to their market. The device they are developing is focused on the complete destruction of "forever chemicals," namely a group of chemicals called PFAS/PFOA which can be in our water. These chemicals are rapidly becoming a major public health issue across the United States and beyond. 

If you'd like to follow their journey please sign up for their email updates at Aquagga.com 

Alaska Seed Fund

Are you ready to build a prototype of your innovation in order to help demonstrate the idea and gain additional support and investment? The Alaska Seed Fund may be a source of prototype funds.

Applications will be open in February at https://www.alaskaseedfund.com/. In the meantime, learn more about past winners and read how the seed funds have helped to grow Alaskan products and companies.

Watch the Alaska Seed Fund website and the OIPC Facbook page for updates and more information, or contact Ky Holland at hrholland@alaska.edu or 907-727-2735 for assistance with your application.