Industry-Sponsored Research Week

UT-Austin leads new consortium focused on pandemic readiness and response

By David Schwartz
Published: August 4th, 2020

A collaboration involving more than 50 organizations in academia, industry, and the public sector has formed the Texas Global Health Security Innovation Consortium (TEXGHS).

Organized by Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) at The University of Texas at Austin, the consortium will work together to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and future pandemics by supporting innovators working toward pandemic readiness, response, recovery and resiliency.

TEXGHS is looking to create a health security innovation ecosystem in Texas. The consortium’s initial focus is on coordinating resources that already exist in the Austin innovation ecosystem, followed by a statewide expansion to develop additional capacity to expedite research, development, commercialization, workforce development and manufacturing at the intersection of health security and technology.

The group is already supporting a variety of pilot projects due to the urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are working with innovators across a range of areas including mass vaccination systems, large-scale decontamination, PPE education through gamification, and community contact tracing,” said Dr. Lisa McDonald, director of health care at Austin Technology Incubator and co-founder of PandemicTech. “We are also in the process of defining focus areas for future pilot projects to align with statewide goals. We are committed to understanding health security priorities at the community, city and state government levels, and exploring how best our efforts can support those priorities.”

In addition to addressing urgent pandemic-related needs, the consortium’s broad goal is to improve global health security not only now, but when other pandemics and health crises inevitably emerge. Studies have also shown that pandemics, including COVID-19, tend to exacerbate existing health inequalities, disproportionately impacting low-income populations.

COVID-19 has underscored the importance of global health security and the need to build more resilient communities, ready to respond and quickly return to normalcy. TEXGHS will lead a collaborative and coordinated effort across consortia to facilitate those goals.

The consortium will coordinate these efforts, which will include company participation across incubator and accelerator programs, investment, institutional research collaboration, cooperation among networks of global health security experts, representation to local, state and federal governments, resource mapping across the innovation ecosystem, prototyping, engineering, and legal and regulatory support.

“Our intention is to be at the forefront of this issue in Texas, and to be prepared for what we anticipate will be significant interest in funding programs targeting pandemic preparedness and response,” said Dr. Andrew Nerlinger, co-founder of PandemicTech and venture partner at Bill Wood Ventures. “The current COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the immense scope of this challenge.”

TEXGHS is recruiting partner organizations to join the consortium, as well as start-up companies interested in receiving support to commercialize solutions at the interface of health security and technology.

Source: UT News

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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