Leading the Way at Weill Cornell—daedalusfund

Launched in 2014, Weill Cornell Medicine's Daedalus Fund for Innovation is a unique initiative designed to advance early stage applied and translational research projects that have clear, relatively near-term commercial potential. The core objective is to ensure that when academic research with commercial potential is still considered too early for industry or venture investment, resources are made available to bridge the funding gap. Thus, we seek to provide an effective, dedicated mechanism to bridge what has come to be known as the post-discovery/pre-commercial development gap and accelerate projects to the point at which they would be considered "partnership ready," i.e., attractive opportunities for a research alliance with industry and/or strong candidates for licensing. Key to this is establishing proof-of-concept and, correspondingly, a robust data validation package, and generating (or strengthening) solid intellectual property positions, all of which are imperative in order to attract investment and commercialization partners from industry and the venture community. 

In order to ensure maximum flexibility and drive results, Daedalus funds are awarded in two categories:

Level I: Level I funding of up to $100k will be awarded for a period of 12 months. Level I funding may be utilized to support preliminary proof-of-concept activities that (if successful) would establish a potential basis for a subsequent Level II proposal (provided that additional funding is required). By way of example, Level I proposals may be aimed at the following (among other things):

  • Identification of candidate therapeutic compounds or biologics, and confirmation that the candidate molecules demonstrate target-specific biological activity
  • Demonstration that a candidate vaccine antigen or technology elicits a functional immune response in a suitable animal model
  • Demonstration that a candidate biomarker detection method is appropriately sensitive and specific under ideal lab conditions.
  • In vitro development and validation of a therapeutic delivery platform

Level II: Level II funding of up to $150K per year may be awarded for a period of 2 years, as appropriate. Approved projects will be funded at the level deemed necessary to drive results and achieve the proposed research objectives. Every Level II proposal will be formally reviewed at the end of the first year upon receipt of the first year's progress report, which is mandatory. Approval of the second-year of funding will be strictly contingent upon the achievement of proposed technical milestones or value inflection points that must be specified in the body of the proposal. In other words, it should be noted that the second year of funding is NOT guaranteed. 

Detailed guidelines and application materials

As in the past, recipients of Daedalus funding will be selected through a very stringent review process. In order to help select the most promising projects with the greatest commercial potential in the most unbiased manner possible--which is essential--submissions are reviewed by an independent Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) comprising recognized scientific and thought leaders drawn from the biopharma and venture capital communities. The SAC utilizes very well-established industry-grade investment criteria to help select the most competitive and impactful proposals for funding based on scientific/technical merit, need, and commercial potential. The SAC is also charged with responsibility to help assess the progress of funded projects. Successful proposals will be those that are milestone-driven and designed to reach specified value-inflection points within the funding period.

Information on the projects selected for funding in past years

The Daedalus Fund is managed by Larry Schlossman, Managing Director of WCM's office of BioPharma Alliances and Research Collaborations. If you have any questions about the Daedalus Fund or the application process, please don't hesitate to contact Larry at las2041@med.cornell.edu.