To improve human health by uniting academics and industry experts around the globe to generate an efficient, effective and exciting pathway for translation of academic discoveries and innovative solutions through education and project support.
SPARK is a unique partnership between university and industry founded by Professor Daria Mochly-Rosen in 2006 at Stanford University in USA. The purpose is to provide the education and mentorship necessary to advance research discoveries from the bench to the bedside. SPARK provides access to specialized knowledge and technical expertise regarding drug and diagnostic development and sources of funding to support translational efforts.
Bridging the gap between bench and bedside is a challenging endeavor. There is an inherent risk that early-stage programs will fail during development, no matter how promising is the science. Such nascent programs are unlikely to attract interest from industry until they have reached significant milestones, and very little funding is available from the government, foundations, or private enterprise for this critical transition. SPARK was founded as a cost-effective model to generate proof of concept using industry standards. SPARK emphasizes new ways of thinking about bridging the gap between bench and bedside.
Professors, clinicians, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students at institutions are invited to apply for funding from their home SPARK programs. Proposals are reviewed by an expert panel of faculty and industry advisors. Upon selection, these “SPARK Scholars” receive funding for product development and mentoring from advisors with expertise in product development, clinical care, and business. This mentorship prepares participants for careers that link fundamental research to important therapies. SPARK Scholars are funded for an average of two years and participate in weekly seminars with industry and academic experts.
Over 40 different institutions have established or are developing their own versions of the SPARK program. SPARK at Stanford is committed to supporting their work and accelerating the development of academic discoveries. Since the 2015 launch of SPARK Global, SPARK partners have launched 25 startups, received $30 million in funding, achieved 10 awards, and initiated 25 clinical trials.