When it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship, Duke faculty and researchers stand apart for the breadth, depth, and positive impact of their innovations, standing at the forefront of innovations in health care, finance, medicine, technology, public policy, science, social enterprise, and more. I&E convenes a core faculty group of over 80 members from all areas of the University—scholars, researchers, clinicians, and experts in their field who advance innovation and entrepreneurship at Duke. In partnership with the Office of Licensing & Ventures and others across Duke, we offer translational education and support to faculty for commercialization of their work. We also connect them with tailored resources like student workers, advanced translation strategies, space, and funding.
The Duke Incubation Fund
The Duke Incubation Fund supports ideas from Duke’s faculty, researchers, and clinicians with the potential to go to market with awards of up to $20K. While many resources exist at Duke to support research and commercialization, the Incubation Fund is among the only opportunities for innovations still in the ideation stage. Since its inception in 2018, over $618K has been awarded to 37 projects across the University and Health system, advancing prototypes, pre-clinical and clinical trials, industry and regulatory discovery, user testing, and startup formation and contributing to invention disclosures, patent applications, patents, and licensing agreements. Five of these projects have gone on to receive more than $4.3M in additional funding. This year, the Duke Incubation Fund saw more than $266K awarded to fourteen projects.
In 2020, I&E expanded our translational offerings to provide tailored workshops to individual departments at Duke, giving faculty foundational instruction in innovation as well as coaching to advance their own ideas and projects. In partnership with the Department of Medicine, we developed and ran the Department of Medicine Innovators Academy for 19 junior faculty members, which culminated in an Idea Jam where two $10,000 prizes were awarded. The DOM Innovators Academy Faculty participants were supported by I&E Certificate students, leveraging innovation for education and leveraging education for innovation. We are currently building on the success of the DOM Innovators Academy to create sessions in partnership with the Departments of Surgery, Pediatrics, Orthopedic Surgery, Drug Discovery, and Palliative Care.
We have also developed the Research Translation & Commercialization core curriculum of workshops to be offered through I&E Academy—sessions free and open to the Duke community and the public—with content geared towards faculty, researchers, and clinicians who want to learn more about commercialization of their research innovations. To date, three workshops have been facilitated by experts from across the University, covering innovation basics and creative problem solving, opportunity evaluation and testing assumptions. The series will be rounded out with additional workshops covering strategy and business plans, financial and human resource considerations, and launch in the coming semester.
Through participation in these opportunities, faculty, researchers, and clinicians broaden their skills in innovation and entrepreneurship, and their projects are better positioned to leverage the robust commercialization resources within Duke’s innovation system.