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News Release

UC San Diego and Qualcomm Partner to Accelerate Wireless Healthcare Industry

San Diego, CA, May 14, 2009 -- UC San Diego hopes to accelerate the translation of wireless healthcare technologies from the laboratory to society through a Wireless Healthcare Innovation Challenge.  The goal of the Challenge, to be managed by the William J. von Liebig Center in collaboration with UC San Diego’s Calit2 and Institute of Engineering in Medicine, as well as the San Diego Wireless Life Science Alliance, is to provide pre-seed funds and business advisory services to nurture the commercialization of promising inventions from university and research institute labs.  The von Liebig Center plans to partner with industry and institutions throughout Southern California on the Challenge. 

San Diego-based Qualcomm is the first sponsor of the planned Challenge.

“Advanced wireless technologies today have the power to drive the delivery of innovative healthcare solutions and the potential to address the world's healthcare challenges,” said Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs, who gave kudos to the Innovation Challenge during the 4th annual Wireless-Life Sciences Convergence Summit in San Diego this week.   “Unfortunately, the lack of resources to implement working devices and services prevent many great ideas in the labs of research institutions and universities from getting to the patient, or even to clinical trials.  In conjunction with the Innovation Challenge and with partnerships such as the Wireless Life Science Alliance and the West Wireless Health Institute, we will be able to develop and advance wireless healthcare applications and services and bring them quickly to market so that we can directly impact the many healthcare challenges of today and tomorrow.”

The Challenge’s goal is to further nurture and fuel the commercialization of wireless healthcare technologies out of regional university laboratories to help catalyze the growth of this industry in Southern California. The program will be open to faculty, researchers and graduate students at Southern California universities and research institutions. The von Liebig Center, in partnership with Qualcomm and the Wireless Life Science Alliance, will solicit applications from innovators, provide business advisory assistance to the applicants, and organize presentations to expert review panelists who will evaluate the commercial potential of these technologies. The von Liebig Center plans to grant six awards to teams of entrepreneurial researchers and students for the development of innovative wireless healthcare technologies that have a strong promise of commercialization.  Projects selected by an expert panel of judges will receive pre-seed funding and business mentoring for one year.  A single commercialization award will be given to a graduate student team to encourage early engagement with this industry.

“The rapid commercialization of these technologies has the potential to provide real solutions to many of today’s worldwide healthcare challenges,” said Rosibel Ochoa, director of the von Liebig Center, which is part of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. “Many disruptive innovations developed in the laboratories of research institutions and universities fail to reach the public because of lack of proof of concept that determine technical and commercial feasibility.  Innovators at our research institutions need a supportive business mentoring environment that guides them through the technology commercialization process and links them with the entrepreneurs and sources of capital that will enable these novel ideas to mature and reach the market.”

Ochoa said participants in the program will have the opportunity to form a highly visible and dynamic partnership that will further position Southern California as the regional leader in the development of wireless healthcare technologies. She hopes the program will also serve as a model for replication throughout the nation and world.

Funds donated to this program by challenge sponsors will allow the von Liebig Center to provide business mentoring for at least 20 teams and pre-seed funding of $100,000 to at least three projects over a 12-month period. Pre-seed funds may be used for development, testing, prototype construction, or market research.

During this week’s Wireless-Life Sciences Summit, Don Jones, vice president of health and life sciences for Qualcomm, encouraged a room full of investors to help fuel the nascent wireless healthcare industry.

“Qualcomm is a leader in the convergence of wireless technologies and plays a key role in catalyzing the growth of the wireless healthcare space," Jones said. “Partnering with UCSD's von Liebig Center, the Wireless Life Sciences Alliance and the West Wireless Health Institute will help create a much needed pipeline for innovations to be transformed into commercial products and services that can impact everyone in the health care ecosystem.  Qualcomm and UCSD would like to invite all stakeholders interested in growing wireless healthcare to learn more about this program and help accelerate the creation of new enterprises that will produce cost-effective, and more efficient solutions for everyone in the wireless health care value chain."

About the von Liebig Center:  The William J. von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement at UC San Diego was established in 2001 with the mission to inspire entrepreneurism and catalyze commercialization of UC San Diego’s innovations through pre-seed inventions through private grants, education and business mentoring.  A study released by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Max Planck Institute of Economics described the von Liebig Center at UC San Diego and the Deshpande Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as national models of effectiveness in commercializing early stage university-based innovations. Since inception, the von Liebig Center has worked with more than 230 technologies, advised more than 130 faculty, awarded $3M in pre-seed grants to 66 projects and participated in the creation of 19 startup companies. These companies have received more than $80 million in private capital and have created more than 135 jobs.




Media Contacts

Andrea Siedsma
Jacobs School of Engineering