Michigan Surgical Innovation Accelerator Course

Our goal is to identify novel surgical innovations and technologies at the University of Michigan, and partner with those investigators to help accelerate their technologies so they can move forward and create impactful change for patients.

Driving Surgical Innovation

The Michigan Surgical Innovation Accelerator (MSIA) course is a six-month program and funding resource for surgical faculty and trainees. This program is designed to teach the essentials of innovation and entrepreneurship while developing ideas toward clinical impact. Participants apply for the MSIA program with an innovation they would like to further develop.

MSIA is an opportunity for surgical innovation teams who are early in their technology or device development the chance to accelerate and de-risk their ideas through expert mentorship and customer discovery. The program funds 4-6 promising surgical technologies per year to move through a custom commercialization program to advance these technologies to a point where they will be highly competitive for follow up funding.


Teams participating in MSIA receive expert instruction, expert coaching, peer mentorship, and resources for patent filing, prototyping, and customer discovery provided through the fund and supported by Innovation Partnerships.
Each course intends to accelerate the process of bringing new technology to patients by identifying and addressing problems early in the development process. Concepts developed throughout the MSIA course include:

  • Value proposition
  • Intellectual property and patent submission
  • Regulatory pathways
  • Customer discovery
  • Marketing and adoption
  • Prototyping and pitching

Collaboration & Partnerships

The MSIA course fosters collaboration throughout the Department of Surgery and throughout the University of Michigan. We work with faculty members who specialize in different areas such as Engineering, School of Information, and departments across Michigan Medicine. Their unique perspectives encourage creativity and new ideas, leading to better technology for our patients.
The course emphasizes collaboration between academia and industry. Teams benefit from expertise of industry partners who have experience navigating the process of new technologies moving into the clinic and understand how to navigate the regulatory adoption issues that occur. The collaboration and connections help teams develop the technology effectively and provide resources beyond the course including opportunities for licensing and expansion.

  • Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program is a commercialization program that seeks to accelerate the development of university technologies into new products to improve health care. The Coulter Program collaboratively works with UM faculty to develop medical device concepts invented at UM and license the related IP rights to medical device companies who complete development and seek FDA approvals.
  • Fast Forward Medical Innovation provides resources for teams to conduct consumer research to better prepare their product for the market and distribution to patients.
  • Innovation Partnerships assists teams in navigating the regulatory process and preparing to file patents.
  • The Expert Oversight Committee with members from Venture Capital firms, Industry leadership from Cook Medical, Stryker Inc, Medtronic, and J&J as well as IP expertise and local expert leaders outside of surgery at the University.

Funding & Investors

The MSIA awards are determined by the oversight committee based on the quality of the innovation and its commercial or development potential.

The oversight committee reviews applications as well as award winners and monitors their progress, deliverables, and exits/ROIs. The committee is comprised of Department of Surgery faculty and external members from industry, venture capital, legal experts, and partnering Michigan Medicine units.

Participation & Eligibility

To be eligible for the Michigan Surgical Innovation Accelerator (MSIA), the submitter (PI or Co-PI) must be a member in good standing of the University of Michigan Department of Surgery and the innovation project must address improving the care of surgical patients. Collaborations between University of Michigan schools and other Michigan Medicine Departments is acceptable as long as a lead school is identified, and IP position/split is well defined as part of the submission.

The course will run October through April. Final pitches will be scheduled for April. The MSIA course meets monthly in person as a group. Asynchronous work amongst teams is required throughout the course. Full team participation in MSIA is mandatory for funding.

MSIA Participants 2022 - 2023

  • Dr. James Geiger, Pediatric Surgery
  • Dr. Matthew Corriere, Vascular Surgery
  • Dr. Andrew Chang, Thoracic Surgery
  • Dr. Andrew Obi, Vascular Surgery
  • Dr. Jeffery Kozlow, Plastic Surgery
  • Dr. Tasha Hughes, Plastic Surgery
  • Dr. Jill Cherry-Bukowiec, General Surgery

MSIA Participants 2021 - 2022

  • Dr. James Geiger, Pediatric Surgery
  • Dr. Rishindra Reddy, Thoracic Surgery
  • Dr. Seth Waits, Transplant Surgery
  • Dr. Christopher Sonnenday, Transplant Surgery
  • Dr. Jeffery Kozlow, Plastic Surgery

MSIA Participants 2019 - 2020

  • Dr. Paul Gauger, General Surgery
  • Dr. Alam Hasan, General Surgery
  • Dr. Amier Ghaferi, General Surgery
  • Dr. Chandu Vemuri, Vascular Surgery

MSIA Participants 2018 - 2019

  • Dr. Steven Buchman, Plastic Surgery
  • Dr. David Hughes, Endocrine Surgery
  • Dr. Oliver Varban, Minimally Invasive Surgery
  • Dr. Michael Englsebe, Transplant Surgery
  • Dr. Chandu Vemuri, Vascular Surgery
  • Dr. Matthew Ralls, Pediatric Surgery

Application Process

Proposals submitted to MSIA must address a surgical problem or disease and describe an innovation or solution to that problem that improves the lives of surgical patients. Innovations can be in the form of new devices, diagnostics, therapeutics, digital health solutions, or programmatic efforts, but all must have the ability to translate into real patient or commercial impact.

Multidisciplinary collaborative team projects are encouraged but at least one co-Principal Investigator must be a full-time faculty member in the Department of Surgery. For single PI submissions, the PI must be a full-time faculty member in the Department of Surgery. Resident physicians, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, and medical students may serve as Co-Investigators on the team.

Required Application Materials

  1. Completed Application Proposal in the form of a 3-page executive summary of the technology/innovation. (Please use the proposal template RFP document as a reference for how the document should be structured and what sections need to be included.) 
  2. Biosketches (NIH format, 5-page limit each) for each co-PI on the project
  3. Signed Cover Page/Agreement from all PI/co-PIs to agree to the rules of the competition, including mandatory participation by finalists in the Surgical Innovation Development Accelerator Course. All finalists teams are required to participate in the SIDAC course which will run one Friday per month from Jan 2020 - June 2020 and will participate in the Surgical Innovation Prize Shark Tank Competition Event in June 2020, and if chosen for funding-completion of a separate funding contract.
  4. 3-minute Pitch Video describing the unmet surgical need/problem and the current standard of care, such as:
    • What is your innovation and potential clinical impact?
    • Who is on your team?
    • How will MSIA be helpful to your success?

Partners & Investors

The program seeks new collaborative opportunities with industry partners, investors, and philanthropic initiatives to grow the program and provide more resources and opportunities for great surgical innovations to be successful and move outside the university for real patient impact.

Interested groups or individuals who would like to partner with the Department of Surgery and the MSIA course to help us advance surgical innovations at Michigan Medicine to the next level can contact Candice Stegink, Associate Director of Innovation, at [email protected].

Contact Us

Candice Stegink

Associate Director of Innovation