ready to launch
New biotech lab, accelerator emerges in Houston to speed up commercialization of life-saving cures
A new initiative from Rice University is launching with an ambitious goal — to take biotech innovations from concept to clinical trials in five years or less.
The Rice Biotech Launch Pad is a newly announced initiative that will expedite Rice University's health and medical technology innovations. The accelerator, which will occupy 15,000 square feet of space on campus, will be funded through federal grants and donations.
“The Rice Biotech Launch Pad will ensure that our faculty and students have the skills, partnerships, tools and support to create technologies that can transform our city and the world,” Rice President Reginald DesRoches says in a press release. “More importantly, the accelerator will provide a pathway for these creations and discoveries to be turned into medical cures that significantly impact people’s lives. Rice researchers have been doing this for years. This development will allow them to do even more and at a quicker, more efficient pace.”
Leading the program are two seasoned experts: associate professor of bioengineering at Rice, Omid Veiseh, and biotech entrepreneur Paul Wotton, who co-founded Avenge Bio and other startups with technology discovered in Veiseh’s lab. Veiseh will serve as faculty director, and Wotton will lead as executive director. Veiseh says the team behind the new lab will assist faculty in their mission to garner funding — via grants from organizations such as ARPA-H, DARPA and the NIH — as well as creating pathways for licensing revenue for the university.
“We have the infrastructure, financial backing and talent in Houston to do more in creating new medicines to cure disease," Veiseh says in the release. "This is a thriving environment that warrants more attention and dedication to bring forward Houston’s medical discoveries. I am proud to help make this happen.”
The accelerator’s founding advisory council members from Rice are:
- Paul Cherukuri, Rice’s vice president for innovation.
- Jacob Robinson, professor of electrical and computer engineering and of bioengineering and founder and CEO of Motif Neurotech.
- Ashok Veeraraghavan, professor of electrical and computer engineering and computer science and co-founder of Synopic.
- Yael Hochberg, head of the Rice Entrepreneurship Initiative and the Ralph S. O'Connor Professor of Finance and Entrepreneurship at the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.
“The Biotech Launch Pad is the first in a series of Rice Moonshots that are hyper-focused on building a ‘speed and scale’ innovation ecosystem across Houston," Cherukuri says. "We at Rice are committed towards driving the Biotech Launch Pad in collaboration with our partners within the Texas Medical Center and the new Helix Park campus.”