In later summer 2017, UTHSC in partnership with the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) welcomed the first Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) Chris West. The EIR position is a shared resource between Memphis Bioworks Foundation and UTRF designed to support innovative research teams and their entrepreneurial ventures in Memphis and throughout the state.
Chris comes to UTHSC with over 20 years of experience in marketing and executive sales for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. He has managed both sales and marketing teams in the successful launch of multiple products and initiatives for companies such as Warner-Lambert, GlaxoSmithKline and Warner Chilcott.
As the new EIR, Chris is working with UTHSC researchers to help translate their research innovations into commercial products or startup companies. He has already assisted several UTHSC researchers with the development of their research innovations, working directly with them to further develop their ideas to ultimately address real patient needs.
“The purpose of my job is to help UTHSC’s inventors commercialize their ideas,” said Chris. “With them, I help to build plans and connect them with the resources they need to be successful in the marketplace.”
In addition, Chris will be part of the review process for the UTRF Maturation Grants, an annual seed funding program designed to advance technologies with commercial potential. He will focus on pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and medical devices. Chris will also lead the ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator under the Memphis Bioworks Foundation.
Funding for the new EIR comes from the i6 Challenge Award given by the U.S. Economic Development Administration through their Regional Innovation Strategies program to UTHSC in partnership with Memphis Bioworks Foundation and UTRF in 2016. The award is also helping to expand the CORNET Awards program and the UTRF Maturation Grants.
These three initiatives working jointly together are a part of the new Proof-of-Concept Center at UTHSC. Located in Memphis, the Center will help connect innovative UTHSC medical researchers and their technologies to businesses and entrepreneurial expertise via Memphis Bioworks Foundation. Additionally, with the assistance of UTRF, the Center will work to offer novel solutions for regional health challenges, and create jobs and economic development within the region and state. Chris will play a key role in supporting UTHSC’s innovative teams at the Proof-of-Concept Center.
When asked about his favorite part of the job so far, it is “working with UTHSC’s researchers.”
“They are all very creative, talented, and passionate about their project,” said Chris. “It’s contagious. I really feel invested because they are so passionate about their idea and the patients that they are trying to help.”
To schedule a meeting with Chris, please contact the UTRF Health Science Center Office at 901.448.7827, or submit your inquiry via the UTRF website: https://utrf.tennessee.edu/contact/