About the Program

The U-M Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program is funded by proceeds of an endowment from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, with a match from the University of Michigan Medical School and the U-M College of Engineering.

Always a collaboration between U-M faculty from any College of Engineering department and a practicing clinician from a clinical department, each project is guided by a team of industry experts to the point of licensing, start-up, industry partnership, and/or follow-on funding from angels or venture capitalists.

Program Overview

The objective of the University of Michigan Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program (Coulter Program) is to bring medical innovations into healthcare through a company.  The goal of the Coulter Program is to develop novel medical device product concepts invented at UM and license the related intellectual property (IP) commercialization rights to medical device companies who subsequently complete development and apply for FDA registration, clearance or approvals.

To achieve this goal, the Coulter Program operates as a medical device design and early-stage product development program.  The Coulter Program utilizes industry best practice strategic planning processes which comply with FDA required design planning to develop advanced prototypes designed to meet unmet medical needs and create compelling licensing opportunities for large established medical device companies (also known as “strategics”).

Output from Coulter projects leads to advanced prototypes built under design controls, frequent interactions with major medical device companies and venture capital investors, and often involve interactions and submissions with the FDA.  Many Coulter projects have culminated in first-in-human clinical trials and licensing deals with large medical device companies.  The Coulter program also supports new company formation and early-stage development of envisioned products to the level that will be required to attract experienced management teams and investors.

Each project funded through Coulter will need to demonstrate:

  • A clearly envisioned medical device product concept with an intended use to address a clearly defined unmet clinical need.
  • Scientific merit behind the product concept to justify product development.
  • Novel IP that is owned or solely managed by UM and is at the pre-license stage.
  • Minimum of Invention disclosure on-file with the UM Office of Innovation Partnerships and Innovation Partnerships commitment to file a patent application.
  • Industry or investor early interest in commercializing the envisioned product concept.
  • Interdisciplinary Engineering and Clinical faculty partnership with relevant expertise.
  • Faculty willingness to work with the Coulter team and Coulter strategic partners as a combined new product planning and development team.
  • Translational research plans to de-risk any key remaining technical hurdles leading directly into early-stage product development under the guidance from and in conjunction with the Coulter Program.
  • Strong potential for reaching an exit to a commercial entity:
    • Direct licensing of technology IP by a medical device or diagnostics company who complete development and commercialize the envisioned product OR
    • A clear path to company formation with angel or venture capital financing.

Proposals demonstrating the ability to meet these objectives will receive greater consideration for support and funding awards.