I-RED Application Overview

APPLICATION DEADLINE:  Monday March 4, 2024 (Midnight ET)


Founded in 2018, the XLerator Network (XLN) is a partnership between XLerateHealth, a healthcare startup accelerator based out of Louisville, KY, and 25 Academic Institutions with the University of Kentucky serving as the Academic Lead. XLN was funded by the NIH/NIGMS to support the commercialization of promising life science and healthcare innovation in the Southeast Institutional Development Award (IDeA) region, including Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico. Established by Congressional mandate in 1993, the IDeA program’s goal is to broaden the geographic distribution of NIH funding and to help accelerate early-stage biomedical technology from the laboratory to market, with an emphasis on supporting geographically underserved areas in healthcare. 


Through the IDeA Regional Entrepreneurship Development (I-RED) award from NIGMS, XLN is developing and launching a suite of experience-based entrepreneurship education products and tools that will be coupled with commercialization programming and coaching and deployed as the “I-RED Program”. The aim of the I-RED program is to build biomedical researchers’ and students’ entrepreneurial knowledge and skills needed to translate scientific discoveries and innovative technologies into commercial products and shorten the time it takes to get these technologies from bench to market.  


As part of this initiative, we are soliciting qualified applicants to apply for the 2024 I-RED Program. Qualified applicants include faculty, academic investigators, clinicians with university faculty positions, and students who are close to or ready to translate their human health related technologies (e.g., medical devices, diagnostics, therapeutics, digital health products/services, etc.) from the lab to the commercial market.  Applicants will be carefully chosen to participate in the I-RED Program through a highly competitive selection process — and milestone-based funding will be available to program participants.  


As this is NOT a “regular” research grant, the types of eligible commercialization activities to be incentivized are going to be determined by specific product or technology commercialization needs, and funding will be distributed in tranches, after achieving specified milestones. As an example, such milestones may include activities such as deep customer discovery (from creating a set of the appropriate questions for the interviews to participating in certain events, e.g., HLTH, VIVE, BIO, etc. conference and interviewing the participants); going through the training using educational modules provided by the funder or otherwise available to the applicant; or completing an assignment that furthers their understanding of the commercialization topic (e.g., an in depth sizing of the market using TAM, SAM, SOM, a unit cost analysis, building a 5-year Pro Forma, completing a payer return-on-investment (ROI) model, to name a few). Many of these outputs can be used in an SBIR/STTR submission, and investor pitch, etc. 


The amount of funding will be up to $25k per application, in sole determination of XLN, and based on the need demonstrated through the application process (this maximum amount should not serve as a target for your application, and an applicant’s request must be commensurate with the necessary efforts).  Should a proposal be selected for funding, the requested amount may be reduced.


Applicant’s academic institutions are encouraged to offer additional/matching funds to the awardees. To allow as much funding as possible to go towards actual technology commercialization (that if successful, will in the future bring additional revenue to the academic institution), F&A rates charged by the academic institution should not exceed 10% of MTDC.


The XLN team will work closely with selected innovators to help them acquire the fundamental business understanding and entrepreneurial skills needed to successfully commercialize their technologies by either creating scalable healthcare startups or licensing their innovations to existing businesses. “Scalable” means that founders are able to: 1) develop and launch commercially viable and competitively defensible technologies that solve real world problems, 2) attract funding as needed to bring their innovation to the market, 3) grow their employee/talent pool as required, and ultimately 4) attract, grow, and retain customers.