The Terasaki Institute is a non-profit research foundation created by the late Dr. Paul Terasaki, a professor at UCLA and a pioneer of organ transplantation. His work on HLA and immunology paved the way to understanding the mechanisms of action involved in organ rejection during transplantation and enabled modern-day transplants.
The late Paul Terasaki built One Lambda (now Thermo Fisher) to commercialize his life saving technologies, and the company became an early unicorn of its time. The legacy of the late Dr. Paul Terasaki has been continued by the generosity of the Terasaki Family which has funded and expanded the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation (TIBI) through its philanthropic support. Today the institute has three buildings in Southern California which include its newest core laboratory in the Warner Center in Woodland Hills and provide state-of-the-art interdisciplinary biomedical research facilities designed to pursue applied sciences across biomedical devices and drugs. Although TIBI is supported generously by the Terasaki family, the caliber and scope of its research work and faculty has enabled the institute to also capture significant funding from the National Institute of Health and other US Government agencies as well as other private foundations. Additionally, TIBI is a significant partner to industry and conducts sponsored research in partnership with biopharma and medical device companies. The institute maintains close collaboration with many key academic research institutions but is not affiliated with any one of them and works with faculty globally. Its unique funding structures enables to self-fund some of its programs to drive disruptive solutions in large unmet medical needs that might be viewed too risky or early by some traditional sponsors.
The objective of the Terasaki Institute (TIBI) is to drive innovation past the classic stage of academic success. The translation between academic research and lifesaving products that can transform standards of care is often difficult to fund, complex to execute in terms of interdisciplinary science required, and costly because of regulatory and other infrastructure needed. The essence of TIBI’s innovation strategy is to focus on the translation to turn “lab experiments” into products, to ensure that promising academic research can deliver the patient impact that ultimately fulfills its potential.
As these projects advance and become de-risked, there is a need to transfer them into companies that can ultimately execute on making them available to the patients. We see this process as accelerating the impact of these discoveries which otherwise might remain relegated to academic publications and never reach the patient.
For these reasons TIBI is a home for those academic researchers that want to take their science all the way to the patient, often combining academic achievements with entrepreneurship. Our NeXt Innovation Incubator is dedicated to these academic entrepreneurs and their emerging companies. It provides both the core facilities for product development as well as the business support to help this translation. We like to partner with academic entrepreneurs at the earliest stages, sometimes before the projects even become a company. Ultimately, we envision that this incubation process is a key ingredient on how we can accelerate patient impact, leveraging discovery and accelerating its full transformation into patient facing solutions.
Indeed, there are many incubators in Southern California and elsewhere and they are excellent institutions. However, the specific biomedical applied science infrastructure and technology together with specialized staff to effectively translate biomedical innovation is rarely put under one roof. NeXt Innovation Lab is not only space and equipment, which are in itself a very large investment, but also core technology platforms that can be utilized in rapid product development. For example, TIBI has an extensive platform in biomaterials including smart materials and nano materials which can rapidly be incorporated into translating projects for novel diagnostics, drug delivery and or implantable devices. Other examples of such platforms at NeXt Innovation Incubator include bio-sensing and wearable devices, personalized cells, patient derived avatars and organ on a chip technology for drug susceptibility assays and personalized medicine product development, tissue engineering and 3D bio printing platforms. All of these are a sort of “lego blocks” for rapid biomedical product development that enhance the value to our incubating companies and go well beyond space and core lab facilities. In addition, our support extends into business areas such as IP development and licensing, business planning, and capital market access. This comprehensive program is designed to accelerate the development of our incubating entities to enable rapid growth.
Members of our incubators are integrated in our overall laboratory on a shared basis, so the investment in core facilities as well as staff is integrated. Overall, the combination of laboratory buildout, core facilities, platforms and other elements of our incubator would amount to multiple tens of millions of dollars and would be difficult for anyone incubating company to duplicate at startup. All Terasaki scientific and management staff support incubating companies through a program of sponsored research which is offered to incubating companies. Additionally, Terasaki has a team of dedicated innovation specialists that help manage programmatically the incubator program and provide business support to the incubating companies.
The incubator has been running in stealth mode for the last 6 months and 2 companies are already being incubated in the space. We are now launching it as a formal programing we are expecting to welcome new companies beginning with March 2023.
As discussed before our incubator program is much more than space. Companies in our incubator have shared access to TIBI’s entire research cores and laboratory, plus access to our resident faculty and research staff for sponsored research and development programs. Additionally, they can utilize our platforms for rapid product development and their underlying intellectual properties to accelerate their own product development. These platforms include biomaterials and smart materials, personalized cells, tissue engineering, patient derived avatars and organs on a chip, 3D bioprinting, microfluidics, advanced sensors, and wearable technologies and more. Finally, we have a business planning, mentoring, executive coaching, and IP support program that partner with the companies to help them execute on their business milestones, including capitalization and capital market access. We also maintain clinical research liaisons to support clinical collaborations and regulatory resources.
We currently have two companies already resident in the incubator during its soft launch phase. We are about to welcome a third one. We have about a dozen applicants, and we expect about half of those to be welcomed into the program in 2023. Our program is highly customized to the needs of each incubating company, and it is by necessity very selective, with a focus on the potential patient impact of the incubating science.
As it is probably clear from the above this is much more than space. Our program is more akin to a partnership with the companies, which can include offering elements of our program as an in-kind investment in the incubating companies, in other words through equity. In general, we are trying to structure the program in ways that are highly accretive to the Company’s growth and meet their needs at each stage of development. As a result, it is not a program based on “rent”.