Researching the specifics of what makes an academic incubator great can be challenging because universities don’t publicize information on how much they are profiting off any particular licensing agreement. Although there may be revenue production ratings, Dr. Das said he is not aware of them.
Explore This IssueMay 2023
For otolaryngologists who want to commercialize their ideas, Dr. Das admitted his best advice is somewhat contrarian, but it can make a big difference in an inventor’s net worth. “Bring your second-best idea to the institution where you just got your job and see how it goes,” he said. “If you have a real knack for inventing and commercializing things, then you can decide whether to stay and bring them your best idea or consider taking it to a powerhouse academic center. You might also consider going private.”
Not every academic medical center has a formal incubator. Adam M. Klein, MD, director of the Emory Innovation Group in Otolaryngology (EIGO) and chief of the division of laryngology at Emory University in Atlanta, said it varies depending on where you’re located.
“Within our university, we don’t have a ‘plug and play’ incubator from start to finish. We are advised to contract with one of the city-based organizations, such as the Global Center for Medical Innovation [www.gcmiatl.com]. They offer comprehensive services but at a cost. Fortunately, there are funding organizations such as Biolocity [www.biolocity.gatech.edu] or the Georgia Research Alliance [www.gra.org] that teams can apply to for grant support. I think that speaks to one of the challenges that we as otolaryngologists, or anyone who is an academic physician looking to innovate, faces—just knowing what’s out there in the ecosystem and how to plug into it.”
This is primarily the reason that Dr. Klein and his colleagues put together EIGO: to educate otolaryngologists about the process of medical device innovation, let them know what’s available to them in the area, teach them how to avail themselves of it, and help improve their literacy in the innovation space.
“Most of us blindly find our own way and that’s a challenge when you add the constraints of time, knowledge about things like how to do all of this, and resources, including money,” he said. “Since my colleagues and I started EIGO, I get a lot of people asking me, ‘I have an idea, now what do I do?’ We put together this group to help with those initial steps.”