Request for Applications


Program Year 2021

Applications for the 2021 program year are now closed.

Please email info@va-team.org if you'd like to be informed about the 2022 program year

Key Dates

2021 Upcoming Program Dates:

Phase 2 Begins: June 7, 2021*

VA-TEAM Bootcamp: August 2-3 2021*

Phase 2 Finale Event: January 31, 2022*


2022 Program Dates (tentative)

Applications Open: January 3, 2022

Applications Due: February 25, 2022

Phase 1 Begins: March 7, 2022

Watch Recorded Informational Webinar Here:

Program Synopsis

This is the first year for the new Veteran’s Administration’s Translational Education and Mentoring Center (VA-TEAM) programming. VA-TEAM is a BLRD funded Center within ORD established to increase translational awareness and knowledge within the VA, move VA-funded research toward commercialization, and help VA researchers consider the challenges of translation as they pursue research.

The primary objective of this program is to provide a mentorship and training program to enable VA investigators to translate their research concepts to the clinical market so veterans can benefit from VA-funded research. A further objective is to more broadly educate investigators on the elements of commercialization to prime the pump for future translational projects. The program builds upon a pressure-tested translational mentorship and training methodology involving a combination of mentorship, didactic content, and active participation by awardees.

The program is designed to provide innovators with the specialized business frameworks and essential tools for successful translation of biomedical technologies from the lab (concept) to the market (clinic). Through this program, the VA fosters the development and commercialization of early-stage biomedical technologies by engaging investigators who are interested in better understanding the value of their innovation in addressing an unmet market need—especially if there is a benefit to Veteran health care. The curriculum and customized mentoring provided by the program are intended to guide investigators as they assess the commercial viability and potential business opportunity for their innovation.


Program Structure

The program is a 48-week long program, divided into two phases, and consists of weekly teleconferences, lectures, and homework, plus two all-day remote group events. Participants in the C3i Program will develop a comprehensive set of core skills that will enable them to:

  • Evaluate whether a compelling unmet market need exists for their proposed solution

  • Assess whether there is a viable business opportunity that can be built to meet this need

  • Build a compelling pitch presentation to secure support from potential investors and other business partners.

The teams will be guided through a series of lectures and interactive exercises. They will pressure-test the commercial viability of ideas using universal business criteria as well as the unique requirements of medical commercialization. Participants also work with experienced business advisors and subject matter experts who provide insights into the market sector, intellectual property, regulatory, and reimbursement requirements specific for their projects.

The first 10 weeks, Phase 1 of the course, will focus on characterizing the unmet market need, identifying the customer and stakeholder segments, conducting customer and stakeholder interviews, and validating the business opportunity. The remaining weeks, Phase 2 of the course, will provide commercialization planning support, covering intellectual property strategy, regulatory and reimbursement requirements, risk assessment, milestone creation and valuation, and preparations for pitching to investors and/or strategic partners.

Sixteen teams will be selected to participate in Phase 1. Of these teams, 8 will be selected at the end of Phase 1 to continue to Phase 2.



Phase 1
Exploratory Education

The first phase will consist of a series of online workshops consisting of training in specific knowledge areas necessary for translating academic research to commercialization, and will highlight the unique environment of accomplishing this for veteran health care. Each team will be expected to attend each workshop and prepare homework specific to their projects between each session. Teams will be expected to interview 4-6 stakeholders in their field to validate the clinical need. At the end of this phase, each team will prepare a short pitch to present to our leadership team, selection committee, and their peers. The best pitches will be chosen to participate in the second phase. The goal of the first phase is to broadly increase awareness of the commercialization process and develop a more robust translational research culture within the VA. Teams from all four VA research services are invited to participate.

Phase 2
Mentoring and Management

In this second phase, focused on mentorship and project management, teams chosen through the pitch competition will be vetted by our oversight committee, and then selected for participation. This committee will select projects that already have sufficient near-term research funding, have potential to impact on veteran care, are near the point of translation, and are attractive for commercialization. The program builds on an already validated and deployed model, and is divided into the following components:

  • Bootcamp - The program contains a multiday, intensive bootcamp at a central VA location. During the bootcamp, teams will spend time with a group of business mentors, present and iterate on business aspects of their project, and receive instruction on commercialization basics.

  • Webinar Curriculum – Throughout the year, further training on commercialization will be conducted through monthly video conference sessions. Sessions will focus on topics such as market sizing, reimbursement, value, financing, regulatory, reimbursement, customer discovery, validation, and clinical trials.

  • Mentorship – Each team selected will participate in weekly meetings with a small mentor group composed of the investigative team, a business mentor, and a project manager. Early in the year, much of the discussion will focus on feedback received during customer discovery. As the year proceeds, the focus will shift towards the formation of a business plan. A mentorship pool of approximately 15 experts in biomedical technology commercialization will be assembled for each cohort, and the business mentor and project manager for each team will be drawn from this pool. The technology transfer professional assigned to the technology will be invited to join the team.

  • Quarterly Check-insEach quarter, all teams will present to the full business advisor team to receive feedback on their project and ensure progress.

  • FinaleThe program will culminate with a 2-day finale event, where teams will pitch their concepts at a central VA location. Key VA officials, including technology transfer, will be invited to this event.


Budget and Project Period

This is an educational program and does not have attached funding. Projects selected for Phase 1 will begin on March 1st, and present their learning at the Pitch Day on May 10th. Projects selected at the Pitch Day to continue to Phase 2 will begin on June 7th and continue through the Finale in the end of January, 2022.

Program Eligibility

  • By the beginning of Phase 1, applicants must have filed an invention disclosure with VA Technology Transfer Program and VA must have some ownership of the intellectual property.

  • Each full proposal should have co-principal investigators: One clinical PI and one investigative PI (engineering or scientific research PI). Other team members who are passionate about translation should also participate. If you do not currently have a co-PI, we encourage you to apply anyway and we can help find contacts for you.

  • Successful applications will have existing funding sufficient to move the project toward translation.

  • Teams should be prepared to devote at least 5 hours per week, and up to 10 hours at times, to the lectures, homeworks, and meetings with advisors.



General Information

Criteria

Projects described in the application must relate directly to applications in health care, and special consideration will be given to projects with potential to positively influence veteran healthcare. The objectives of the project should include an outcome that will benefit patients. Evaluation of each proposal will be on the basis of scientific merit, potential health care impact and significance, focus on Veteran needs, experience of the investigators, and the potential for commercialization.


Application

Completion of a two-page application form for Phase 1 is required for consideration in the program. All applicants must meet the eligibility requirements at the time of the Phase 1 commencement on March 1st. Participants in Phase 1 will pitch their projects to the Selection Committee as their application for acceptance in Phase 2. Sixteen teams will be selected for Phase 1, and 8 teams will be selected for Phase 2.

Watch Recorded Informational Webinar Here:

Point of Contact

Andrew Cornwell, PhD

Director, VA Translation Education and Mentoring Center

Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center