Spotlight Innovation Inc. names IUSM researcher to Scientific Advisory Board

Spotlight Innovation Inc., which has licensed a therapeutic through Indiana University Research and Technology Corp. that could treat Spinal Muscular Atrophy, has created a Scientific Advisory Board that includes the Indiana University School of Medicine researcher who discovered and developed the therapeutic.

Dr. Elliot Androphy
Dr. Elliot Androphy

Dr. Elliot J. Androphy, Chair of the Department of Dermatology, has been named to the Board. He is the author of 135 journal articles published in Science, Nature, EMBO Molecular Medicine, Human Molecular Genetics, Journal of Virology, Molecular Cell, and other publications.

Other board members include Kevin Hodgetts of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School and Hengli Tang of Florida State University.

“We’re honored that these eminent inventors, scientists and key opinion leaders have chosen to serve on our SAB,” said Dr. Geoffrey Laff, Spotlight Innovation’s Senior Vice President of Business Development. “Their ongoing technical and strategic guidance will influence our allocation of resources and accelerate development of our early-stage pipeline product candidates.”

A news release about Spotlight Innovation’s Scientific Advisory Board is available here.
A news release about the license for the Spinal Muscular Atrophy treatment is available here.

National investing event seeks healthcare startups for pitch contest


Healthcare startup entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply for the Pitch Perfect contest at MedCity INVEST’s national conference, May 17-18 in Chicago.

Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  1. Products and innovations must come from one of the following sectors: biopharmaceuticals, diagnostics, medical devices, digital health and health IT, or health services.
  2. Companies must have completed at least one round of seed funding prior to the conference.
  3. Companies should currently be seeking or intend to seek additional rounds of capital within 6 to 12 months of the conference.

Selected applicants will pitch in front of the MedCity INVEST audience to three judges. Pitches are followed by a question-and-answer session. Judges will score the presentations, and winners will be selected in each category.

The application deadline is January 31.

More information about applying for the Pitch Perfect contest is available at

IUPUI students, researchers begin collaboration with Cuban university to study neglected diseases


Researchers William ScottMartin O’Donnell and Geno Samaritoni have developed IUPUI’s Distributed Drug Discovery, or D3, program to discover treatments for neglected diseases. Its newest partnership with the University of Havana brings its total of global collaborators to seven.

Scott, O’Donnell and Samaritoni have contacted technology transfer personnel at Indiana University Research and Technology Corp. to protect the compounds they have developed under D3. IURTC protects, markets and licenses intellectual property developed at Indiana University so it can be commercialized by industry

More information about the D3 program’s partnership with the University of Havana is available here.

Engage Indiana breakfast serves as focal point for talks on corporate engagement, social responsibility

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-10-40-41-amJust before the Thanksgiving holiday week on Nov. 18, a number of CEOs, executives, social responsibility professionals and other thought leaders gathered for a breakfast meeting at The Westin Indianapolis hotel with a singular focus: How can business be used as a force for good?

More specifically, how can companies:

  • Become more inspired to new ways of thinking about the importance of community engagement within their organization;
  • Build revenue while also making communities statewide more vibrant;
  • Engage alongside Indiana’s business community as it becomes a national leader in using corporate social responsibility principles to attract and build businesses, retain high-quality talent and strengthen communities.

Co-hosted by the Indianapolis Economic Development Corp. and the Indianapolis Business Journal, the Engage Indiana corporate social responsibility event — with a little help from Innovate Indiana — also was attended by about 20 Kelley School of Business students from the marketing classes of senior lecturer Kimberly A. Donohue.

“The students were attentive, interested and impressed with the level of social responsibility demonstrated by individuals who are so successful in their chosen field of business,” Donohue said. “While all of these students are pursuing business degrees, there is usually some trepidation regarding the ethics of businesses and if the student will be able to benefit the community once they are entrenched in their careers.  This conference showed that it is not only possible but it is encouraged and respected.”

“Overall, the Engage Indiana event represented a tremendous real-world learning opportunity for our students,” said David Gard, IU’s assistant vice president for economic development. “We appreciate the IEDC and IBJ enabling our students to participate in the event and to learn more about how leaders are successfully integrating principles of corporate social responsibility into their business practices here in Indiana.”

CARLEY: UEDA summit demonstrates that economic development success comes to universities that build deep, long-term ties with external partners

Attendees of the University Economic Development Association’s 2016 Annual Summit mill about the conference floor at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center in Roanoke, Va.

As regular Crimson Catalyst readers will know, IU was well-represented at the recent University Economic Development Association Annual Summit in Roanoke, Va. Having attended nearly all the Awards of Excellence finalist presentations, I thought I might pass along a few takeaways from those – plus some other key themes of the summit.

One consistent theme of the winning initiatives was the deep collaborations that universities built with external stakeholders – often over considerable amounts of time.

Kansas State University’s Silo-Busting Collaboration Series initiative, which won the Innovation award category, consisted of 23 events and included over 825 participants. They came together to discuss opportunities that would enhance the university’s competitiveness for major awards and firm relocations.

Similarly, Shoals Shift, a University of North Alabama initiative that won the Innovation + Talent category, also brought many partners together across sectors. To illustrate the deep ties they developed, the presenters mentioned that the head of the local chamber of commerce — who had been a key advocate of the project for the business community — became a university employee focused on this initiative.

In his keynote address, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine stressed the need for sustained collaboration and engagement with regional partners, while urging leaders to constantly ask: “Who isn’t at the table that should be?”

Joe Carley
In Erskine’s view, future success in regional economic development will be defined by the ability of organizations to form strong, integrated partnerships. By aligning and pursuing shared interests with external partners, both universities and external partners enhance their competitiveness and accrue longer-term benefits from a stronger regional economy.

These partnerships can take many forms, such as aligning educational programming with regional workforce needs, supporting entrepreneurial activity, jointly building regional clusters, and innovating in teaching and learning.

Erskine also noted how universities themselves increasingly provide leadership on major regional economic development projects.

The summit’s host institution, Virginia Tech University, showcased such a project – a partnership with regional health care provider Carilion Clinic to develop a growing medical school and medical research institute in Roanoke. Additional partners, including the City of Roanoke and the State of Virginia, also have been engaged – and are expanding this vision to include an Innovation District aimed at growing startups and attracting established companies working on health technologies.

For those who follow IU economic development efforts, the Virginia Tech initiative should sound a bit familiar. As we speak, planning continues on the new IU Health Hospital and adjacent Academic Health Complex on the current site of the IU Bloomington golf course driving range. And recent developments — such as the expansion of Tsuchiya Co. Ltd.’s North American headquarters in downtown Bloomington’s Trades District — signifies further development of a 10th Street Innovation Corridor that extends from the Trades District to state Highway 45/46 bypass near the new hospital/academic health center.

Moreover, both examples bring together three major components of university economic engagement as defined by UEDA – talent, innovation and place. And in both cases, students, faculty and researchers will work in close proximity to health care practitioners, with opportunities for co-location with related enterprises in a nearby technology corridor.

Biochemistry degrees to be offered in spring 2017 semester at IU Northwest


IU Northwest will begin offering both a bachelor of science and bachelor of arts degree in biochemistry during the spring 2017 semester — making it the sole public institution in northwest Indiana to offer such programs.

“We expect that many students will major in biochemistry for the purpose of either joining the workforce or seeking a higher degree in the field,” said Nelson De Leon, chairman of IU Northwest’s Department of Chemistry/Physics and Astronomy. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that students earning a biochemistry degree have excellent opportunities to find good-paying jobs in the field. This is a national and not just Indiana statistic.”

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for biochemists and biophysicists was $82,150 in May 2015. Employment of biochemists and biophysicists is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Read more about the course offerings here.

IUPUI entrepreneur speaks on WISH-TV about campus tutoring centers

Kevin Berkopes
Kevin Berkopes

Kevin Berkopes, director of IUPUI’s Mathematics Assistance Center and Statistics Assistance Center, has been interviewed by WISH-TV about math tutoring on campus.

Berkopes also is an entrepreneur who has launched Crossroads Education LLC, an education and logistics technology company. It is part of Indiana University Research and Technology Corp.’s Spin Up entrepreneurial program. Part of the company’s technology is used in the IUPUI centers.

You can read the complete WISH-TV article here.

PrecisionHawk, which received an Innovate Indiana Fund investment, integrates its tech with John Deere’s

Terrific news from PrecisionHawk, which received an investment from the Innovate Indiana Fund. According to a news release, the company has integrated its technology with John Deere’s.

“PrecisionHawk has completed the integration of its drone data platform, DataMapper, with John Deere Operations Center, a move that complements the ‘precision ag’ space with streamlined ‘decision ag’ products. Outputs from DataMapper, such as Canopy Cover, Plant Count, and various Vegetative Indices, are now automatically linked to the grower’s Operations Center, giving growers the power of aerial imagery analytics in software they are already accustomed to using in their crop management decisions.”

Congratulations to PrecisionHawk! You can read the complete news release here.

Apexian, which licenses IU technology, takes on pancreatic cancer

Apexian, formerly ApeX Therapeutics, is developing a drug therapy for pancreatic cancer. Company officials are working to take it into clinical trials.

Apexian licenses the technology through Indiana University Research and Technology Corporation. You’ll read more about the company and its drug candidate in this article.