Bluefield Innovations, a partnership between The Johns Hopkins University and Deerfield Management, received 18 pre-proposal applications for its fall 2018 request for proposal (RFP) cycle.
Funded by Deerfield, an investment management firm committed to advancing health care, Bluefield will provide up to $65 million in initial funding over five years to support the commercialization of early-stage therapeutic research at Johns Hopkins, with additional funding available to advance research that shows strong commercial potential.
Bluefield has two RFP cycles per year. Pre-proposal applicants in the current cycle will be notified in December if they have been selected to submit a full proposal. The joint steering committee overseeing the selection process will provide feedback to all applicants regardless of how they fared in the selection process.
Bluefield expects to fund at least one project in the second RFP cycle, according to Chief Scientific Officer Vincent J. Kalish. Projects will be funded from different therapeutic areas and at different stages of drug development, from biological target to preclinical development candidate.
Since its launch in November 2017, Bluefield has received 76 applications and funded three proposals with a commitment to support preclinical development milestones. Among the funded projects is one by Marikki Laiho, the Willard and Lillian Hackerman Professor of Radiation Oncology and director of the Division of Molecular Radiation Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, which targets an enzyme implicated in many forms of cancer.
Kalish said Deerfield is pleased with the first year of the Bluefield collaboration, particularly its interactions with Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures and faculty members.
“The depth and breadth of science coupled with the entrepreneurial spirit of the Johns Hopkins faculty has impressed us all,” he said.
Looking ahead, Kalish said Deerfield wants to make the collaboration “industrial-level quality and scale” through Bluefield, principal investigators’ laboratories and contract research organizations from target identification to Investigational New Drug submission.
In other proposal news, JHTV received 17 applications for seed funding through the Bisciotti Foundation Translational Fund, which provides $300,000 annually to inventors across the university for technology validation and product development studies.
Proposals are evaluated on: commitment of inventors to commercialization; prospective market size and competitive advantage; technical feasibility; and the potential for attracting additional funding, strategic partners or customers.
Finalists will be notified in December and will then give an in-person presentation to a review committee in late January. The winners are scheduled to be announced in early March.
On the student-entrepreneur front, FastForward U received 40 applications for its Graduate Student Award. Four student-led teams each will receive $5,000 to help validate and scale their venture as well as receive mentorship from subject matter experts, serial entrepreneurs and investors.
The winners will be announced in early December.
Bluefield Innovations, the Bisciotti fund and the Graduate Student Award are just a few of the ways JHTV helps companies set early-stage innovations and discoveries on the path to commercialization. The JHTV staff has extensive knowledge of other translational funds within Johns Hopkins as well as external opportunities to ensure companies for students, faculty members and startups.