Students Take RNA Discoveries from Lab to Market

In 2012, The RNA Institute at UAlbany launched its inaugural Thermo Fisher Student Venture Fund program, further underscoring the significant role universities play in combining research with entrepreneurship and economic growth.

RNA students

Thermo Fisher Venture Fund winners, from left, Papa Nii Asare Okai, Vitali Sikirzhytski, Ryan Henderson, Rabi Musah, Brady Bieniek, William Ellithorpe

The program awarded two teams of science and business students $50,000 each todevelop commercially viable RNA-technology projects Made possible through funding from biotech manufacturer Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc., the interdisciplinary program unites graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from The RNA Institute, College of Arts and Sciences, and UAlbany’s School of Business.

Participants develop inventions and submit proposals to advance the commercialization of RNA technology. The winning teams are required to demonstrate proof of principle and conduct a detailed market analysis for their inventions, with additional in-kind support from School
of Business partners.

The inventions and proposals were formulated through an entrepreneurship course designed by School of Business lecturer and investment banker Fred Buse, and judged by a committee of Thermo Fisher and The RNA Institute representatives.

In addition to developing novel technologies aimed at furthering the discovery of therapeutics, diagnostics, and forensics with application to RNA, the project also created a unique collaboration among life scientists and MBA students that catalyzed RNA science commercialization.