Innovate Mississippi

Point Innovation Magazine Winter 2013

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RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT The Innovation Hub at Insight Park Cultivates Biomedical & Pharmaceutical Partnerships Jim Beaugez W hen Jim Sabatier earned his Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi (UM), he knew one day he would put his research discoveries to commercial use. Now, 30 years later, he's getting his shot at the school's Innovation Hub at Insight Park, a 62,000-square-foot high-tech center that provides support and infrastructure to startup companies in the knowledge business, including biomedical and pharmaceutical industries. Sabatier became the first tenant of the Innovation Hub with his company, Soair, an outgrowth of his life's work as an acoustical physicist at the National Center for Physical Acoustics located on the university's Oxford campus. Soair is a patented sonar technology that helps doctors monitor and assess fall risk in advanced-age patients by remotely measuring walking speed, leg and torso motion, and other parameters related to balance and walk gait. This technology shows promise in applied eldercare, a sector of the health care industry expected to grow as baby boomers continue to age. With the Innovation Hub as his base, he is able to take advantage of in-house resources to develop his research into a viable business. "It was bred into me as a graduate student that this was what I was supposed to do, but I struggled to know how to do it," said Sabatier. "I'm a university faculty member by career, trying to become a businessman. The Innovation Hub provides all of the pieces I need." The promise of biomed startups like Soair illustrates the potential of cultivating the public-private partnerships that UM is attracting to the Innovation Hub research and business incubator located in Insight Park, the university's research park. A convergence of opportunities is positioning the Innovation Hub and Insight Park for success in the biomedical and pharmaceutical fields, including the Blueprint Mississippi study's health care recommendations and the recently passed health care zone legislation that provides incentives for business. The Innovation Hub contains wet and dry laboratories and a scale-up synthesis and extraction suite for pharmaceutical and agrichemical compounds. But the university benefits most from its own academic pedigree. "The University of Mississippi, at both the Oxford and Jackson campus, has a unique set of intellectual capital to recruit the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industry because of the School of Pharmacy, the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, the School of Applied Sciences, the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, the School of Dentistry and the School of Health Related Professions," said Alice Clark, Ph.D., vice chancellor for research at the university. "UM also has expertise of value to health care companies such as nutrition, advanced manufacturing, physical acoustics, workplace wellness, accounting, business and law." 27

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