Medical Device Daily Associate Managing Editor

In a move that could create what might be the next LifeScience Alley, the Cleveland Clinic , in collaboration with Fairfax Renaissance Development (FDRC) and more than 20 biomedical and academic institutions, reported this week that it will receive $60 million from the State of Ohio to develop a Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center (GCIC).

The clinic said the grant is the largest-ever made under Ohio’s Third Frontier Project, the state’s multi-billion-dollar effort to expand its high-tech research capabilities, promote innovation and create high-paying jobs.

The GCIC will be designated as the Wright Mega-Center of Innovation , enabling the project to draw significant state financial support for operations and capital expenses. The funding will be granted over five years.

“The vision for the GCIC is that this is going to be a national entity and that it will drive new technology and new opportunities into the cardiovascular field,” Chris Coburn, executive director of Cleveland Clinic Foundation Innovations, the clinic’s technology commercialization arm told Medical Device Daily. He said this is “a $200 million initiative if you count state money plus the match.”

Working with its partner organizations, GCIC will also recruit emerging cardiovascular companies and units of established firms to Cleveland and throughout Ohio so that the companies can take advantage of the GCIC capabilities. The hope is to develop a specialized version of Minnesota’s highly successful LifeScience Alley but with a much narrower focus.

‘In some of these [economic development] regions,” Coburn said, “growth has been across many disciplines, we are concentrating solely on cardiovascular,” an area that he noted is big enough to encompass the clinic’s ambitions “since it’s a $400 billion sector.”

Heart failure and its two major causes — atherothrombotic vascular disease and valvular heart disease will be the center’s main clinical focus, and Coburn stressed the importance of narrowing the field. “We think keeping this relatively tight-focused will allow GCIC to quickly become a presence in the industry and also to add value for corporate partners.”

The Cardiovascular Coordinating Center of the Cleveland Clinic will be a critical element of the GCIC. The Cardiovascular Coordinating Center is internationally recognized as an academic research organization with long-standing, high-level relationships throughout the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries, according to the clinic. The center will provide pre-clinical and clinical trial support to Ohio companies involved in cardiovascular medicine and will facilitate linkages as innovations moved through the commercialization process.

Company’s working with the GCIC will also have the benefit of a working relationship with the clinic, which has been ranked No. 1 in the nation for cardiac care by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1995.

According to Coburn, the GCIC will develop and acquire new technologies for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, spin off new companies and recruit experienced leaders and emerging companies to establish an internationally recognized cluster of cardiovascular expertise. It will build upon Cleveland Clinic’s cardiovascular clinical expertise, its multidisciplinary approach to understanding the factors underlying heart disease and the clinic’s history of innovation.

The GCIC is a partnership between Cleveland Clinic, four institutions, 16 companies and FRDC, a community development corporation. The clinic and FRDC will work together to promote economic development and growth locally. FRDC will build, own and manage the GCIC Accelerator, which will be the home for GCIC member companies and the base of operations for the GCIC. The building will be located adjacent to the Cleveland Clinic campus right next to the Lerner Research Institute.

The GCIC will feature a commercialization structure built upon CCF Innovations and will in-license cardiovascular technologies from around the world and combine them with capabilities at its five member institutions — Case Medical Center (Cleveland), Ohio State University (Columbus), the University of Cincinnati , and the University of Toledo — to develop new products and deploy them through Ohio-based companies.

Arteriocyte , Athersys , Cardiac Power , Cell Targeting , Frantz Medical , IntElect , P&G, PeriTec , PrognostiX , RegenRx , Volcano and Zin Technology are among the Ohio companies participating in the project. Medtronic (Minneapolis), Pfizer (New York), IBM (Armonk, New York) and GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin) are among the national corporate collaborators involved. Cleveland Clinic is also collaborating with FDRC. Team NEO, Omeris and BioEnterprise to develop the Cardiovascular Innovations Center.

Coburn said, in the early stages, the most critical thing is to find somebody to lead the GCIC as its general manager.

“From our standpoint,” he said, “we’re trying to get someone who has been senior in the cardiovascular industry and who has some venture experience, either as an investor or board manager or board member of a company, and to really build this initiative around that person.”

In addition, he said that the company would be looking for at least a dozen additional new hires to work on product development and IP acquisitions.

The GCIC will be headed overall by Steven Nissen, MD, principal investigator and chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Cardiovascular and current president of the American College of Cardiology (Washington).

Coburn said he hopes the new GCIC Accelerator will be ready for business in 18 to 24 months.