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. With the Duke Angel Network, the Incubation Fund, and a range of tailored translational programs, I&E has played a major role in supporting Duke research translation over the past decade. As of July 2021, I&E’s translational programs have moved to the Office of Translation & Commercialization, where they will join a broader suite of programs and resources that support Duke researchers seeking to commercialize their work.
The Duke Angel Network
Through the Duke Angel Network, investors find innovative, early-stage Duke-affiliated companies with great teams, while Duke-affiliated entrepreneurs gain access to capital and mentorship to fuel their growth. The global Duke community offers a uniquely powerful opportunity for networking and guidance from industry experts and successful entrepreneurial leaders. Since 2015, 10 faculty-founded startups have joined the Duke Angel Network’s portfolio, and the network’s investors have committed more than $13 million to commercialize innovative faculty research.
The Duke Angel Network also supports the Triangle Venture Alliance, an angel investing initiative designed to bring much needed seed-stage capital to the RTP region of North Carolina in partnership with angel investing groups at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, and North Carolina Central University.
In addition to bringing much-needed capital to early-stage companies, the Duke Angel Network provides immersive experiential education for graduate and professional students and trainees from across the University and Health system. As Duke Angel Network associates, these students and trainees participate in a structured curriculum, diving deep into venture capital, private equity, startups, and angel investing, and receive hands-on experience in evaluating investment opportunities by leading diligence.
The Duke Incubation Fund
The Duke Incubation Fund has supported 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 has stood apart as among the only opportunities for innovations still in the ideation stage. Since its inception in 2018, the Fund has supported 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. In Fall 2020, three awards were made totaling more than $59,000. In Spring 2021, seven awards were made totaling more than $249,000.
In 2021, I&E continued to work with individual departments, such as the Department of Medicine and Duke Perioperative Services, to provide faculty with foundational instruction in innovation as well as tailored coaching to advance their ideas and projects. These workshops also provided rich experiential learning opportunities for students, who supported faculty participants. In addition to these customized workshops, I&E offered Research Translation & Commercialization core curriculum workshops geared towards faculty, researchers, and clinicians wanting to learn more about innovation basics, creative problem solving, opportunity evaluation, testing assumptions, strategy and business plans, financial and human resource considerations, and launching a business.