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14 May 2018

Utah tunes up $1m seed fund

The capital will help turn early-stage university ideas into successful spinouts, having already backed a Car T-based immuno-oncological therapy for multiple myeloma.

Author: Callum Cyrus, reporter

University of Utah has launched the University of Utah Seed Fund with up to $1m in capital to support early-stage university technologies capable of luring external funding and achieving commercialisation.

The Center for Technology and Venture Commercialization (TVC) will oversee the fund, which is expected to help researchers cross the so-called valley of death between forming a business and generating revenues.

The University of Utah Seed Fund’s first investment is a Car T-based therapy for treating a blood-borne cancer called multiple myeloma. The approach, already backed by an undisclosed amount of grant funding, was conceived by Djordje Atanackovic, who leads an immuno-oncology lab in Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute.

The university hopes its fund will be able to attract additional funding from both public and private-sector sources. TVC will set development milestones for the investees based on market considerations to help them attract equity and grant funding further down the line.

Keith Marmer, executive and associate vice-president of TVC, said: “We recognise the amount of funding is small at the moment, but we hope to reinforce to our researchers that TVC is a partner in their efforts to bring their innovations to market…

“Additionally, getting a technology further developed attracts top entrepreneurs and talent to help move these inventions to market.”

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