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New fund launched to accelerate engineering, medical translational research products

ANN ARBOR — The University of Michigan has launched the Monroe-Brown Seed Fund, a new funding vehicle designed to advance the process of transitioning commercially viable engineering and medical research projects to market.

The fund, approved today by the U-M Board of Regents, is a collaboration between the U-M College of Engineering's Center for Entrepreneurship and the U-M Medical School's Fast Forward Medical Innovation program.

With a $3 million gift from the Monroe-Brown Foundation, the Monroe-Brown Seed Fund will award seed money to biomedical startup companies that are joint efforts between the university's engineering and medical schools. Such seed grants are designed to accelerate the commercialization of biomedical research, to provide unique educational opportunities for researchers and students, and, ultimately, to positively impact patient care.

The fund will supply resources for the university's biomedical startup companies with marketplace potential.

"With this generous gift from the Monroe-Brown Foundation, shepherded by foundation president and U-M engineering alum Robert Brown, we can expand the impact of innovations birthed from the College of Engineering's historic partnership with the Medical School," said David Munson, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering. "The fund will give our school additional ways to apply our faculty and students' illustrious research to solving society's complex problems in health care."     

"We are thrilled for the support and the commitment of the Monroe-Brown Foundation to medical innovation," said Dr. Marschall Runge, U-M's executive vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Medical School. "The new fund will help us attract and retain world-class researchers as well as biomedical entrepreneurs."

The fund will invest in startup companies such as those developing medical devices, diagnostics, therapeutic delivery systems, health IT and digital health products. It will be run by program manager Hirak Parikh, a biomedical engineer. Parikh's previous research and professional positions focus on neuroscience applications and products.  

Parikh has a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and master's degrees in electrical engineering systems and biomedical engineering from U-M. He also has an undergraduate degree in electronics and telecommunications from the University of Pune in India.

About the Monroe-Brown Foundation

The Monroe-Brown Foundation is dedicated to promoting an environment where scholars and students can positively contribute to economic growth and workforce development in Michigan. Robert Brown, president of the foundation, has spent 45 years working with more than 40 venture capital investments in the areas of banking, manufacturing and real estate. Based in Portage, Mich., he graduated from U-M with a bachelor's in engineering and spearheaded this partnership with the university.    

Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE)

Fast Forward Medical Innovation (FFMI)

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