Innovation Initiatives

We provide opportunities to further enrich innovation and entrepreneurship at the Department of Surgery. Additionally, we aim to expand upon traditional funding models, which are often limited with respect to time and scope in their ability to support all aspects of academic research with rapid dissemination into practice.

"This place is a place that innovates and thinks outside the box."

Gurjit Sandhu, PhD

Directed Sabbatical Time

The goal of the Directed Sabbatical Time is to enable faculty to devote focused time away from the daily operational tasks of clinical surgery in the pursuit of professional improvement and productive scholarship. Directed Sabbatical Time occurs away from standard teaching, administrative, and clinical duties to pursue a professional interest best accomplished through a dedicated period of full immersion.

Once faculty members have completed the 8-week program, they will present the results of their directed sabbatical time to their fellow Department of Surgery faculty members.

Beginning in their 3rd year of appointment at the Department of Surgery, faculty members across all tracks and levels are eligible to be nominated by their section for this program.

Innovation Development Courses

The mission of the Michigan Innovation Prize is to cultivate and enhance innovation and entrepreneurship in the Department of Surgery through innovations which advance the care of surgical patients. The Michigan Surgical Innovation Prize is awarded to outstanding surgical innovations from teams that have excelled through the department's Surgical Innovation Development Accelerator Course. An oversight committee made up of faculty experts in and out of the Department of Surgery, as well as engineering, industry leaders, and venture capital partners, reviews team proposals and executive summaries and provides expertise regarding funding decisions.

Our innovation courses include:

  • Surgical Innovation Development Accelerator Course: This course selects 10-15 proposals that address a surgical disease or improve the care of surgical patients to go through an innovation educational curriculum to help de-risk and develop the ideas. 
  • Michigan Surgical Innovation Accelerator: Offered on alternate years from SIDAC, this course provides teams with early stage projects the chance to prepare their project for the next round of the SIDAC.

Learn more about the Michigan Surgical Innovation Prize and the Surgical Innovation Development Accelerator Course.

Accelerated Business Engagement & Contract Research

The Department of Surgery, in conjunction with the Fast Forward Medical Innovation team and the Business Engagement Center, has developed a new approach modeled by Contract Research Offices to identify opportunities for fee-for-service contracts with industry partners. The advantages of the Accelerated Business Engagement program include the potential to:

  • Conclude contracts much more rapidly than the usual sponsored research approach
  • Generate revenue which may be directly reinvested into the medical enterprise
  • Maximize the value produced by high-capacity laboratories with surplus available effort
  • Offset the ongoing stagnation of funding from traditional federal sources such as the NIH.

The overarching goal of this new model of industry engagement is to find opportunities to effectively utilize excess research capacity to generate funding which may be reinvested in the primary investigator’s laboratory, helping to defray operational expenses, acquisition of equipment, and supplies.

The University of Michigan delivers quality, unique assets, integrity, and reproducibility as part of its established brand. Companies will benefit from our unique expertise to evaluate their assets in UM models. Templates for two types of agreements are available (a “Research Agreement” and a “Service Agreement”) in conjunction with the Office of Sponsored Research, the Office of Technology Transfer, the Office of General Counsel, and the Fast Forward Medical Innovation’s Business Development Team.