As a science and technology institute, the Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging seeks to facilitate broad access to the innovative discoveries and inventions that originate in its laboratories. Extensive academic collaborations engage scientists and engineers at UCLA, Caltech, UCSB, Stanford, and numerous academic institutions. These connections provide an integrated environment for translational and clinical evaluation and implementation of new science and technology. The Crump Institute views commercialization as an essential and responsible step to provide enabling technologies for biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences to improve patient care.
The energy and vision of several Crump faculty members led to the establishment of a new technology transfer initiative in 2007. Born out of the frustration of LA-based inventions moving to the more established biotech hubs of San Francisco and San Diego, UCLA and Caltech faculty banded together to create a local home for entrepreneurial academics and their new ideas. Located just south of UCLA in Culver City, Momentum Biosciences provides laboratory space and support for start-up ventures interested in moving their technology from academia to industry. A typical biotech company will spend approximately $1.5 million in the first year, with the majority of that valuable capital going towards infrastructure. Momentum takes this burden off early stage companies by providing a comprehensive wet lab facility with shared office and meeting space, allowing scientists to focus time and resources on proof-of-concept and product development. To date, Momentum has housed over 10 companies in a variety of life and physical science disciplines, helping build the biotech economy of Los Angeles.
At present, Momentum is home to Sofie Biosciences, a company established on discoveries and inventions by Crump faculty. Sofie Biosciences is creating an ever-expanding playing field for molecular imaging with new PET technologies developed by great people with great ideas. The company was founded by leading UCLA and Caltech faculty along with imaging industry professionals who are committed to accelerating the transfer of new healthcare technologies from the laboratory to the clinical and commercial environment. By empowering a wide array of people with valuable, translational imaging tools, they are removing the dependency, cost, and complexity from PET, ushering in the new world of molecular medicine.
ImaginAb, another company founded on work originating from Crump faculty laboratories, has used incubation at Momentum as a springboard and is now an independent, revenue generating business. ImaginAb is creating a completely new class of reagents by reformatting antibodies against biologically and clinically relevant targets into fragments optimized for diagnostic imaging. The company is currently developing pre-clinical research tools to understand the biological mechanisms of disease; companion imaging agents to support therapeutic antibody development; and a pipeline of clinical imaging agents for guiding disease management and therapy. ImaginAb believes that in this era of targeted molecular therapy, there is a major unmet need for targeted in vivo diagnostics to help realize the promise of personalized medicine.
A key part of building a technology transfer “engine” is education. The Crump Institute joins with the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, and the Business of Science Center (UCLABSC ) to offer a graduate course on “The Business of Science.” Faculty from UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, Department of Bioengineering, Anderson School of Management, and Office of Intellectual Property, along with volunteers from outside business, legal, and financial communities join to help our students gain a better understanding of the cultures, expectations, and practices of companies in the biomedical sciences and healthcare.