Grant to help state universities jumpstart biotech ventures

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Researchers at Yale University and the University of Connecticut (UConn) will launch a new initiative designed to spur creation of new biotechnology companies in Connecticut, thanks to a three-year, $10 million grant through Connecticut’s Bioscience Innovation Fund.

The new initiative, called Program in Innovative Therapeutics for Connecticut’s Health (PITCH) will be created by the Yale Center for Molecular Discovery at Yale’s West Campus in West Haven.

The program, led by center director Craig Crews of Yale University and Dennis Wright of UConn, will help translate research already being conducted at state schools into private investment in new commercial ventures.

“The U.S. pharmaceutical industry is undergoing a major transformation driven by patent expiries, diminishing drug pipelines and the high cost of conducting internal research and development,” said Crews, the Lewis B. Cullman Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and professor of chemistry and pharmacology. “This is the optimal time to launch new biotech companies and this program is designed to increase the speed in which it is done in our state.”

Managed by Connecticut Innovations, BioInnovation Connecticut helps innovators speed bioscience discoveries toward commercialization, which is made possible through two key funds: The Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Fund and the Regenerative Medicine Research Fund.

“This program directly aligns with the overall mission of our fund,” said Margaret Cartiera, vice president and fund manager of BioInnovation Connecticut at CI. “Not only does this program create collaborative links among Connecticut’s college institutions, but it also encourages the commercialization of research coming out of the universities.”

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