Yale-UConn partnership kick-starts biotech venture projects

A partnership between Yale University and the University of Connecticut (UConn) has selected the first projects that will spur creation of new biotechnology companies in Connecticut.

Funded by Connecticut Innovations, the Program in Innovative Therapeutics for Connecticut’s Health — or PITCH — will help translate research into private investment in new commercial ventures. The program is led by Craig Crews, executive director of Yale’s Center for Molecular Discovery, and Dennis Wright of UConn.

“PITCH is a new type of academic therapeutics accelerator program, and I am excited by the response from faculty who are interested in moving projects from their labs into the private sector,” said Crews, the Lewis B. Cullman Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, and professor of chemistry and pharmacology at Yale.

Selected by an independent board comprising leaders in the pharmaceutical industry, founders of start-up companies, and investment prospectors, the first 12 projects to receive funding represent cutting-edge research that will test new approaches to treat cancer, liver disease, bacterial and viral infections, and inflammatory conditions. Projects at UConn and Yale will draw on the collective strengths of both institutions, building on basic laboratory science to generate prototype drugs for development into new medicines.

The PITCH initiative creates collaborative links among Connecticut’s college institutions and encourages the commercialization of research coming out of the universities. Funded by a three-year, $10 million grant through Connecticut’s Bioscience Innovation Fund, the program is designed to increase the speed in which new biotech companies are launched in Connecticut.

For more information about the projects being funded and the PITCH program, visit the program website at http://pitch.yale.edu/pitch-projects. The second round of applications are due on March 1, 2016.