William Davidson. University of Michigan photo.

William Davidson. University of Michigan photo.

DETROIT (WWJ) — Innovation programs at the University of Michigan will get a boost from a $4.35 million gift from the William Davidson Foundation. Also, the Davidson Foundation awarded $3 million to Henry Ford Innovations, the innovation and entrepreneurship arm of the Henry Ford Health System, to create the William Davidson Center for Entrepreneurs in Digital Health.

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At Henry Ford, officials said the center will be an incubator for new health care technologies and companies. It will also create a fellowship program and create a series of educational programs.

Mark Coticchia, CIO of Henry Ford Health System, said the grant will help Henry Ford Innovations in “developing the next generation of precision digital applications and platforms, and validating their clinical functionality and value.”

Through the grant, Henry Ford Innovations will create a curriculum that integrates entrepreneurship, health care, and digital technologies. Programs will be created for Henry Ford physicians and staff, medical residents, and the Detroit area’s middle and high school students.

At UM, one Davidson grant of $2.9 million will support the UM Medical School’s Fast Forward Medical Innovation effort over three years. The other grant, of $1.45 million over two years, will support programs in the UM Office of Technology Transfer and Center for Entrepreneurship.

UM’s FastForward Medical Innovation effort will enable the university to “mine” UM’s huge health system more effectively for promising projects, broadening efforts to promote innovation and commercialization, and to create new commercialization education, training and mentoring opportunities for inventors and entrepreneurs.

“The creativity and accomplishments of our faculty present enormous potential, and this grant will help move their discoveries forward to benefit patients of the future,” said Medical School Dean James O. Woolliscroft, M.D. “This grant will also further our goal of creating jobs and spurring the creation of new businesses in the state of Michigan.”

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Added Dr. Kevin Ward, executive director of FFMI: “This investment by the Davidson Foundation will help us more quickly bring new technologies and innovations to patients and families, and nurture a culture of commercialization and entrepreneurship for tomorrow.”

The grant to the Tech Transfer operation, meanwhile, will create the Tech Transfer Digital Discovery Center, providing software and other digital resources to encourage, assess and accelerate UM innovations.

UM Tech Transfer works with researchers and faculty across the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses to provide commercialization services for discoveries derived from university research. UM researchers last year reported more than 400 new discoveries to Tech Transfer.

Said Kenneth Nisbet, UM associate vice president for research and tech transfer: “The Digital Discovery Center will encourage our faculty and students in work with digital applications, expand our capabilities and resources, and accelerate our partnerships with the business and venture communities, producing economic opportunities and enhancements to our quality of life.”

Davidson Foundation funding will also support MGoForward, part of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the UM College of Engineering. It will provide mentoring, training and technical support to graduating students whose start-ups show market potential.

Earlier, the Davidson Foundation donated $7.5 million to the UM athletic department. Also, the late William Davidson, through Guardian Industries Corp., made a gift establishing the William Davidson Institute at UM’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Davidson received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UM in 1947 and an honorary degree in 2001. His wife Karen earned a UM bachelor’s degree in 1989.

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The Davidson Foundation, established in 2005, is committed to preserving and enhancing Jewish life in the United States and abroad. In addition, it is funding efforts to improve the economic prosperity of southeastern Michigan.