Encouraging the Scale-up of Proven Interventions: A Toolkit

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Most research universities have technology transfer infrastructure in place to help researchers apply for patents and spread the use of inventions such as drugs and devices. Yet most research universities lack similar infrastructure to help investigators scale up the use of non-patentable innovations such as novel healthcare models, behavioral or other heath interventions, and smartphone applications.

The Evidence-to-Implementation (E2I) Award at the University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW) was designed to speed the uptake of non-patentable evidence-based practices by bridging the gap between academic research and financially self-sustaining success in the marketplace. The Award recognizes that one important obstacle to the wide use of research-based innovations is that investigators in medicine, health services, engineering, nursing, pharmacy, and related fields often lack background in the tools of business. The E2I award is one among numerous funding opportunities sponsored by the UW’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR). ICTR is one of the nation’s 61 NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) grantees. Within ICTR, a program called the Dissemination and Implementation (D & I) Launchpad administers the E2I award.

The E2I award generally offers investigators $75,000 in direct costs, part of which is meant to enable the principal investigator to take part in the iterative process of preparing an innovation for scale-up. In addition, awardees receive 18 months of in-kind support from D & I Launchpad staff members. These staff members have worked in business, health care, and academic environments, and their support may include helping investigators prepare a business plan, assess market sector(s), and conduct market research; identify possible purveyors (individuals or organizations who can represent the program or practice and help support its use); refine the value proposition for purveyors, adopters, and end users; write a pricing plan; develop branding, marketing, and training materials; and facilitate compliance with intellectual property law.

Applicants must commit to collaborating with the D & I Launchpad team to develop their scale-up package and to providing at least three years of impact metrics after completing the award. Applicants for the E2I award respond to a Request for Applications (RFA), a sample of which is provided in this toolkit. As applicants develop their proposals, the D & I Launchpad team helps investigators address eight criteria that are used to evaluate proposals. These eight criteria (shown in the RFA) are designed to help researchers assess and advance the marketability of their innovations. The eight criteria were adapted from an evidence-based predictive tool designed to determine the probability of the long-term success of entrepreneurial ventures. The tool, called the Critical Factor Assessment (CFA), was developed by the Canadian Innovation Centre (www.innovationcentre.ca) and shown to have strong predictive value in forecasting commercial success or failure.

The same eight criteria investigators use to prepare their proposals are used by a multidisciplinary group of reviewers to evaluate the proposals. Reviewers are drawn from business, systems engineering, medical care, community organizations, and other fields. The evaluation process resembles that used by the NIH to evaluate grant proposals, with the usual NIH scores on Significance, Innovation, Investigators, Approach, and Environment replaced by the eight CFA criteria.

The paper by Quanbeck et al. shown in the References section below describes the E2I Award elements, processes, and tools in more detail as well as the activities undertaken and progress made by two investigators who were awarded funds in the first round of application

Who should use this toolkit?

This toolkit is designed for use by leaders of other Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) grantees, or by other leaders at research universities who want to help investigators scale up their non-patentable innovations.

What does the toolkit contain?

This toolkit contains the (1) Evidence-to-Implementation Award Request for Applications and (2) the reviewer instructions and scoresheet used to evaluate E2I applications. Each document is intended to offer a possible roadmap for other institutions interesting in starting such an award.

How should these tools be used?

The RFA document explains the purpose and process of applying for an E2I award. The reviewer instructions and scoresheet define the process for assessing E2I applications.

To allow you to easily adapt the instruments for use in your organization, the RFA and reviewer instructions are provided within the toolkit.

Development of this toolkit

Encouraging the Scale-up of Proven Interventions: A Toolkit was developed by researchers and clinicians (Principal Investigator: Andrew Quanbeck) at the University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Medicine & Public Health – Institute for Clinical and Translational Research and Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.

This project was supported by NIH/NCATS grant 1UL1TR002373-01. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or other funders.

Please send questions, comments and suggestions to HIPxChange@hip.wisc.edu.


Toolkit Citation

Quanbeck A. Encouraging the Scale-up of Proven Interventions: A Toolkit. Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. Madison, WI; 2021. Available at: https://www.hipxchange.org/Evidence-to-Implementation-Award

About the Authors

Andrew QuanbeckAndrew Quanbeck, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. He is a systems engineer—someone trained to solve real-world problems using ideas and techniques from many disciplines. He specializes in implementation science and focuses his work on primary care.

Roberta Johnson, MA, MEd, is a Senior Editor in the University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. She focuses on writing about systems research in healthcare.

Mondira Saha-Muldowney, MBA, was the Manager of the University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW) Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) Dissemination and Implementation (D&I) Launchpad. She leads the Launchpad’s various efforts across the UW campus to scale-up proven healthcare interventions.

Felice Resnik, PhD, is an Assistant Scientist at the UW ICTR D&I Launchpad. She consults with clinical researchers to encourage the application of D&I concepts to their work and leads D&I education initiatives. Her work aims to develop knowledge of practices associated with the successful dissemination and implementation of evidence-based interventions.

Sheena Hirschfield, MBA, was a health marketing and communications specialist at the UW ICTR D&I Launchpad. She works closely with clinical researchers across the UW campus through the Evidence-to-Implementation award to help bring researchers’ innovations to fruition by helping them develop business and marketing plans and materials.

Rachael E Meline, BA, was the Research and Administrative Program Specialist for the UW ICTR D&I Launchpad. She captures and analyzes data relevant to the Launchpad’s consultations, publications, and other activities, and assists with behind-the-scenes preparation and logistics of many Launchpad initiatives.

Jane Mahoney, MD, is a Professor in the University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology. She is Director of the Community-Academic Aging Research Network and also of the Dissemination and Implementation Launchpad within University of Wisconsin’s NIH-CTSA funded Institute of Clinical and Translational Research.