Terasaki Institute's Unique Approach to Innovation

August 23,2021

Written by Chief Innovation Officer, Maurizio Vecchione

(LOS ANGELES)– I have often been asked what makes the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation (TIBI) a unique place for both biomedical research and innovation. Of course, there is the caliber of our faculty, with their world-renowned platforms in leading biomedical frontiers, which include biomaterials, tissue engineering and organs on a chip, and the caliber of our research facilities which provides a unique, state-of-the-art inter-disciplinary laboratory that is home to our science work. But the most important feature might just be our commitment to innovation and the unique process of innovation that we are developing.

What is innovation you might ask? Innovation is the process that helps drive the translation of science into products that ultimately reach patients and solve problems. Without a commitment to innovation there is a significant probability that the breakthroughs in scientific discovery might remain an academic exercise and never actually change the world. While translation is a focus of many research institutions and academic centers, the process of translation is difficult, often requiring a highly interdisciplinary process and multi-stakeholder collaborations which include industry. At TIBI, these principles of inter discipline and collaboration for translation are deeply integrated in our science and discovery processes. Quite simply, TIBI is developing a unique process to partner scientific discovery with innovation and to do so as early in the discovery process as possible.

One way we do this is to work with our team of innovation analysts; their focus is to define problem areas whose solutions have high potential both for market translation and impact on patients. Our innovation analysts partner with our science teams to identify technology and science gaps and define “grand challenges” which provide focus and objectives to our Institute’s research. This process of partnership between innovation and research is a unique aspect of TIBI. By focusing our research on solutions for carefully curated grand challenges, we hope to deliver a steady pipeline of highly impactful outcomes in biomedicine. By converging purpose-driven grand challenges with our research focus, we have the highest opportunity to deliver disruptive solutions into the market and to the patients. We call this “moonshot” thinking.

An aspect of this translational focus is to provide a collaborative environment with the private sector. Often it takes a company to fully translate biomedical innovation and ultimately bring it to the clinic. One advantage of focusing our research around high-impact problems and precise gaps in technology and science is that we are more likely to address market requirements in delivering solutions for them; these solutions, almost by definition, then, represent large potential markets. This convergence of purpose-driven research with high impact and high market potential catalyzes private sector involvement and enhances our funding ecosystem, as well as our capacity to reach patients.

A final element of our partnership ecosystem is the development of intellectual properties for the solutions to our grand challenges, which the Institute pursues to enhance our ability to provide incentives to the private sector partners driving translation. IP development at TIBI sometimes includes the development of spin-out and start-up companies, leveraging an incubator model we are building at the Institute.

For all these reasons, the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation is becoming a center of excellence for academic researchers who are also academic entrepreneurs, offering under one roof the ecosystem of key elements that are necessary for discovery, translation, and innovation in biomedicine. If you are interested in pursuing moonshot thinking that has the power to solve some of biomedicine’s most daunting problems, whether as a scientist, an entrepreneur or a company, join us at the Terasaki Institute. Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Maurizio Vecchione Chief Innovation Officer Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation

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