The Mountain West IDeA States: Who and Why

Tuesday, August 31 2021
Western IDeA States - ASCEND Hub Western IDeA States - ASCEND Hub

The Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program was founded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 1993. The program was established to enhance the competitiveness of research institutions in the IDeA eligible states for NIH-funded grants and increase the probability of long-term growth of NIH-competitive funding to investigators at institutions from these eligible states (RFA: RR-94-002). To date, the IDeA program has awarded 221 grants, totaling more than $370 million in research support.

Twenty three states and Puerto Rico make up this network, and today, the IDeA program is focused on six initiatives:

  1. IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE)
  2. Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE)
  3. IDeA Program Infrastructure for Clinical and Translational Research (IDeA-CTR)
  4. IDeA Co-funding 
  5. IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trial Network
  6. STTR Regional Technology Transfer Accelerator Hubs for IDeA States

ASCEND falls into the last initiative, STTR Regional Technology Transfer Accelerator Hubs, and serves the western IDeA region (AK, HI, ID, MT, NV, WY, NM). The DRIVEN Hub serves the northeastern region (ME, VT, NH, RI, DE). The SHARP Hub serves the central region (ND, SD, NE, KS, OK), and the XLerator Hub serves the southeast region (AR, LA, MS, KY, WV, SC, PR). These states are historically underserved and underdeveloped in the biotechnology sector. Numerous factors contribute to the current climate, including but not limited to a lack of: Technology Transfer Offices, financial support and incentives for entrepreneurial endeavors, educational courses and workshops, knowledge of SBIR/STTR grants, hospitals and medical research centers, and entrepreneurial infrastructure. 

Limited resources have left the IDeA states playing catch-up. While IDeA grants have supported numerous centers and research projects, the Accelerator Hubs, which are funded through the STTR program, are focused on supporting investigators in biotechnology commercialization, specifically through SBIR and STTR grants, education and outreach programs, and fostering an entrepreneurial climate.  

Since the inception of the Accelerator Hubs in 2018, the program has seen impressive growth and a number of successes. The ASCEND, DRIVEN, SHARP, and XLerator Hubs have collaborated with colleges and universities, investment groups, entrepreneurial organizations, small business organizations, and many other individuals to develop a strong support network for academic researchers and students who are interested in biotechnology entrepreneurship. The Hubs have seen an increase in SBIR/STTR applications, invention disclosures, patent applications, and spinouts, and many investigators have expressed that these successes would not have been possible without the support of the Hubs. 

The Accelerator Hubs have proven a vital resource for the growth and development of biotechnology entrepreneurship in the IDeA states. If you are interested in collaborating with the ASCEND Hub or have questions about the programming and resources available, please contact Hunter Bomba at

Read 3887 times Last modified on Sunday, 14 April 2024 16:20