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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce
Funding Opportunities Background

Office of Innovation and
Entrepreneurship (OIE)

University Of Tennessee


Memphis, TN

Project Name

UTHSC Proof of Concept Center



Award Amount


The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) Proof of Concept Center (POC) will be located in Memphis, a majority African-American city that anchors a region investing in innovation and entrepreneurship to surmount longstanding economic challenges and population health burdens. As a research intensive Health Science Center, UTHSC is focused on understanding and solving the specific medical challenges facing our region, including elevated levels of diabetes, respiratory disorders, stroke, cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease and sickle cell disease.

The i6 Challenge funding for the UTHSC Proof of Concept Center, a partnership between the UT Health Science Center and the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, will expand the university’s proof-of-concept programs. The POC will support the innovative Collaborative Research Network (CORNET) awards, initiated at UTHSC, that started a major movement towards collaborative research across the State of Tennessee. These CORNET Awards create teams of interdisciplinary and interprofessional researchers working on the major health problems facing the region, State and Nation. It will create innovative teams of medical researchers and connect them to business and entrepreneurial expertise via a new entrepreneur-in-residence program.

Additionally, the POC Center will catalyze the validation of breakthrough ideas via competitive development grants focused on technologies that, once de-risked, can affect meaningful health outcomes and be capable of attracting private investment capital. The larger pool of new product ideas will increase the flow of technologies, entrepreneurs, and startup companies into the region’s network of startup accelerators including the planned UTHSC Research Park. In turn this will result in greater numbers of high-growth venture-backed companies and more innovative new medical products reaching the market.

An acceleration of the commercialization of medical technologies from UTHSC will both offer new solutions for regional health challenges and will directly contribute to job creation and economic development in the region and State of Tennessee.