The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech has launched a new program aimed at bridging the gap between industry and university research. The institute’s Industrial Affiliates Program is designed to facilitate strong cooperative relationships and partnerships, as well as research and information exchange opportunities, with industry.

“Teaming with industry will help us target opportunities, tune our commercial translation process, and thereby move our research advances and inventions from the notebook or publication to valuable intellectual property, then ultimately into real products and services,” said Virginia Bioinformatics Institute Executive Director Harold “Skip” Garner. “Since joining the institute, one of my goals has been to obtain funding to support commercialization and entrepreneurial programs and the Industrial Affiliates Program is a key element of this process.”

With a vision to be a world leader in transdisciplinary life sciences and biomedical research and education, creating partnerships with industry will help the institute strengthen its commitment to making transformative discoveries, solving important problems, developing the next generation of transdisciplinary researchers, influencing public policy, and transitioning scientific research into use. The financial assistance provided by industry partners will help advance the work at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute that spans four program areas – network dynamics and simulation science and policy informatics, cyberinfrastructure, biosystems, and medical informatics and systems.

The Industrial Affiliates Program offers companies two levels of sponsorship to support the institute’s research. The Gold Partner membership is available for companies seeking to better understand how research at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute can impact their business. For an annual gift of $25,000, Gold Partners receive access to non-proprietary information produced by the institute, opportunities to visit the institute’s facilities and participate in discussions with faculty members and students involving research activities, and access to events held at the institute’s 189-seat conference center and other meeting spaces. In addition, members at this level of sponsorship may submit research suggestions to the Research Advisory Panel, which recommends the research scope for the institute, and attend the annual meeting of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute Futures Roundtable, a group created to discuss the strategic goals of the institute’s scientific program, as well as the implementation of these goals and related scientific and logistical issues.

For an annual contribution of $50,000, Platinum Partner membership is designed for companies seeking access to intellectual property generated by the institute’s faculty members. Partners at this membership level receive all of the benefits of the Gold Partner membership, as well as early licensing access to confidential research information prior to public disclosure and a seat on the Research Advisory Panel with the opportunity to provide input on the selection of annual research program projects. In addition, Platinum Partners can earmark up to 80 percent of the their annual gift to support a graduate student fellowship to explore a research area relevant to the institute’s strategic plan.

“This is an excellent opportunity for companies to support the institute in its efforts to make significant advances in the life sciences and biomedicine,” explained Virginia Bioinformatics Institute Biosystems Program Director Stan Hefta. “By having a seat on our Research Advisory Panel and the Futures Roundtable, industry representatives can help guide the direction of the institute’s research areas. With our first Platinum Member already on board and other company executives interested in learning more about the program, we are cultivating meaningful partnerships with industry to help support our research at the institute.”

For more information about the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute Industrial Affiliates Program, download a brochure detailing the program or contact Hefta.