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JSU leads effort to help HBCUs commercialize ideas focused on human health with support from the NIH-funded XLerator Network led by XLerateHealth and the University of Kentucky

(JACKSON, Miss.) — Jackson State University is leading a partnership with the University of Kentucky and XLerateHealth, a national award-winning startup accelerator, to launch a program that helps advance and commercialize innovative human health-focused ideas from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The program is receiving support from the XLerator Network, an NIH-funded accelerator hub that supports healthcare innovation in 24 academic institutions throughout the Southeastern United States.

The “pre-accelerator” program, “Engaging Researchers and Innovators for Commercialization at HBCUs” (EnRICH), is spearheaded by JSU. It’s designed for faculty and student innovators at all HBCUs that are located in the IDeA-eligible states.

JSU is getting support from XLerateHealth, a health care startup accelerator in Louisville, Kentucky, and assistance from the University of Kentucky Office of Technology Commercialization, the lead academic institution for the XLerator Network.

The goals of the program are to impact equity, diversity, and inclusion in innovations, and train faculty and students at HBCUs to critically evaluate the commercial potential of new healthcare innovations. EnRICH will engage individuals in the commercialization process and train HBCU faculty and students to conduct market assessments of health-related innovations. In addition, the initiative will support intellectual property protections for selected innovations and teach faculty and students how the commercialization development process works. Furthermore, it will support their participation in an established accelerator program and provide mentorship opportunities. 

“JSU is excited to lead this very important initiative, as it has great implications for creating sustainable impact on equity, diversity and inclusion in innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Thomas K. Hudson, acting president of Jackson State University.

EnRICH will also leverage the nationally recognized capabilities of UK’s Office of Technology Commercialization in protecting and commercializing intellectual property, XLerateHealth’s extensive experience with conducting biomedical technology accelerator programs, as well as the NSF I-Corps Site program at JSU. The pre-accelerator program will provide underrepresented minorities with access to expert knowledge, entrepreneurship best practices, professional networks, mentorship, and additional resources. The goal is to expand the program to other minority-serving institutions. Applications to the program will be accepted on an annual basis.

“I am eager to see the impact that this program will have on innovation and entrepreneurship at the participating HBCUs. I am also excited to partner with XLerateHealth and the University of Kentucky Office of Technology Commercialization on this new initiative, as we work to ensure a more equitable, diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem,” said Dr. Almesha L. Campbell, director of Technology Transfer and Commercialization at JSU. Campbell will lead the initiative.

Accepted applicants to the program should be conducting human health-focused research or have an innovative idea related to improving health.

“With JSU having the first and only accredited School of Public Health, as well as one of only two I-Corps Sites in Mississippi, we understand the need for such a pre-accelerator program in driving future economic development by engaging faculty and students in innovation and commercialization,” said Dr. Joseph A. Whittaker, associate provost and vice president for JSU’s Research and Economic Development.

To learn more about the program, visit xleratornetwork.com/enrich or email EnRICH@xleratornetwork.com.