Tech Hubs grant puts ASU at ground zero for medical device manufacturing

Skysong Innovations will help devices get to market
A grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) will put Arizona State University at the forefront of medical device manufacturing.

The Medical Device Manufacturing Multiplier Strategy Development Consortium, or MDM2, led by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, was awarded one of 31 Tech Hubs Strategy Development Grants by the EDA in late October.

The Tech Hubs program, authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act, is investing in U.S. regions and aims to transform them into globally competitive innovation centers.

Marco Santello

Marco Santello, director of ASU’s School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering within in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, will serve in a leadership role in the MDM2 consortium, and ASU will contribute to lab-to-market strategies by leveraging the expertise of Skysong Innovations, ASU’s tech transfer organization.

ASU News talked to Lara Ferry, associate vice president of research for Knowledge Enterprise, about ASU’s role in the consortium.

Editor’s note: The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Question: Can you detail ASU’s involvement in the consortium?

Answer: The Greater Phoenix Economic Council bid focused on these sort of medical devices specifically with a nod toward the neuroscience space and development of tech to bridge a gap in health care and use this in a way to improve health care access. Marco (Santello) was the inaugural director of what’s called the BRAIN Center, which was this kind of engineering neuroscience center thinking about these kinds of devices. So he sits in this kind of engineering space, and he’ll lead a technical working group for (the council). … And we have the power of Skysong behind this as well. Skysong’s contribution is to accelerate that going-to-market element.

Q: In what way?

A: Once they find a particular small business that might be working on an idea, wherever they are in that space, Skysong can help improve that. We’ll also have an opportunity to bring in the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute to create the training for entrepreneurs, think tanks or people to support their ideas, help them pitch their ideas, get feedback and accelerate the time to market. That’s something we do really well between Skysong and the Innovation Institute. It’s a space where we’ve been able to help launch heaps of endeavors.

Q: Will ASU be designing medical devices, or is it about helping others get their devices made and marketed?

A: A little of both. Marco’s thought leadership might help decide what sorts of devices, and certainly some of that can be inward facing to ASU. … But also, part of the purpose of the hub is to really lift the community. So we will play a huge supporting role in bringing the community into Skysong and using resources that are available; bringing the community to E+I. … There’s also a strong emphasis by the EDA to make sure that we’re reaching out to the communities that are historically left behind.

Q: Can you expand on that goal?

A: The EDA is strongly interested in making sure that we’re partnering with organizations like the Black Chamber of Commerce or Hispanic leaders. Just to make sure that there’s this huge emphasis on equal access and lifting up individuals, communities or minority-owned small businesses that have been typically left out and not invited to participate in the same way. That’s a big role ASU can play because access is a part of our mission. So we can reach out in an authentic way to say, “What do you need? How do we meet you where you’re at?”


 Byline: Arizona Impact Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Health care Engineering Faculty Community
Scott Bordow
Reporter , ASU News,


Posted in AZBio News.