National Institutes of Health awards iRED University project $3.2 million IDeA Grant

Photo Illustration by Jeffrey C. Chase/University of Delaware

DESCA, University of Delaware and InsiteHub partnership will use funding to advance biomedical entrepreneurship in Delaware

September 5, 2023

WILMINGTON, Delaware – On August 21, 2023, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a grant through the IDeA Program to iRED University – a new collaboration between DESCA, the University of Delaware and InsiteHub – that will deliver an online entrepreneurial curriculum geared to early-stage innovators and startups that will help them identify their most viable applications as early as possible and subsequently connect them to the broader innovation and mentoring ecosystem. The program is funded through a three-year grant totalling up to $3.2 million, of which more than $980,000 will be directed to DESCA. The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant is now in Phase I, with follow-on funding expected in Phase II.

According to the National Science Board 2018 Science & Engineering Indicators, university invention disclosures totaled 22,507 in 2015 (compared to 13,718 in 2003) and patent applications almost doubled over the same period. In 2016 alone, over 6,600 patents in chemistry and the sciences were awarded – yet many of these patents never realize their full commercial value. iRED University aims to change that.

The iRED University team is working on a simple premise: in order to increase the number of patents and innovations commercialized, we need to increase the funnel of viable technology startups at the front end, and in order to do that we need to meet the very specific and unique needs of technology driven innovators. iRED University will be delivered through a rigorous and engaging online curriculum that will be critical to supporting the project goals and bridging the gap of sufficient training and knowledge for innovators in the biomedical field through a high-availability on-demand learner experience platform. The curriculum will lead innovators from ideation, identifying market gaps, to execution of a product strategy that translates customer requirements into effective commercial execution of new products. The platform will also provide the ability to assess participants at the point of registration and allow them to develop and access a personalized curriculum that can be customized for their specific gaps. This helps both new and experienced innovators to focus on areas of need and provide direct learning interventions.

The product will be initially launched in Delaware and will be open to the entire Northeast when launched. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) established the IDeA (Institutional Development Award) Program in 1993 to broaden the geographic distribution of NIH funding and enhance competitiveness for funding in states with historically low NIH funding. The states that fall within the Northeast Region besides Delaware include Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Other regions include the Southeast Region (West Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Puerto Rico, Missouri), Central Region (North & South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Omaha) and the Western Region (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii).

The core team for this new partnership includes Dr. Julius Korley, Associate VP UD Office of Economic Innovation & Partnerships (OEIP), Louis DiNetta, Technology Business Development Manager Delaware Small Business Development Center SBDC, John Royer, CEO, Insite Hub, and Dora Cheatham, Executive Director, DESCA, and combines expertise in technology development and commercialization, online curriculum development and execution, business development and new product commercialization and SBIR/STTR expertise.


Formed in 2010, the mission of DESCA is to enable science innovators commercialize their technologies faster, as well as driving the new legacy of ChemTech. Today, DESCA has 3 key areas of focus around which it builds its programming:

    • Driving innovation and collaborative partnerships between major strategics, startups and universities;
    • Convening industry leaders in the public and private sectors on emerging issues and driving adoption of emerging trends & technologies that will be the key drivers of sustainability for the future;
    • Connecting students to industry and vice versa, with a goal of harmonizing the development of talent with the validated needs of industry.

    About OEIP

    The Office of Economic Innovations and Partnerships brings together the collective and integrated resources of the University of Delaware and the State’s business, academic and entrepreneurial communities to achieve new levels of innovation and economic development. The Office strives to:

    • Be the partner of choice in matters of economic development, commercialization of innovation, entrepreneurship and building businesses;
    • Enable entrepreneurs and innovators to accelerate ideas into the marketplace, grow businesses and form partnerships through access to University assets, space, capital, counsel and connections;
    • Deliver a unique, integrated model centered on long term, productive partnerships.
    • Support the University, state and region’s entrepreneurial, technical and business communities to reach new levels of economic development.
    • Create a culture where ideas and innovation thrive.
      • InsiteHub has been a provider of learning technology, medical education, and product training to the life science and medical device industries for over 10 years. InsiteHub has established itself as a leader by developing innovative learning technology solutions and earning key industry awards for application design and impact. In addition, InsiteHub’s platform was featured in an extensive Department of Education grant focused on researching student engagement at the university level. InsiteHubs’s instructional design paradigm is based on the ADDIE model whose steps include Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation.

      About Delaware SBDC

      • For over 35 years, the “T” accredited DSBDC has assisted Delaware’s small businesses through information, counseling, and education. DSBDC’s technical assistance has resulted in more than 1,500+ new business starts, 4,200+ new jobs created (since inception), and $267M capital raised (since 2010). In 2009, DSBDC became only the eighth SBDC accredited as a “technology” designated program after demonstrating significant efforts to target and support Delaware’s technology-based businesses as well as its pivotal role as an essential connector and resource within the state’s entrepreneurial and technology ecosystems.

      This article was originally posted on the Delaware Sustainable Chemistry Alliance website at:

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