We are very pleased to report the solid results that the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust (Trust) achieved for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. We positioned the Trust in a sustainable success path and we are moving forward its agenda to achieve our vision: that by 2022 Puerto Rico is a globally recognized innovation hub that develops, attracts, and retains scientists, technology entrepreneurs, and enterprises to unlock world class creativity and competitiveness.
During April 2016, we had the very successful launch of the Puerto Rico Consortium for Clinical Investigation (PRCCI) with the participation of several patient advocacy groups, key sponsors such as Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Merck, and the founding clinical trial units. Today PRCCI counts with 17 members and over 100 study opportunities. PRCCI is expanding its capacity building program with the support of strategic partners such as Yale University Clinical Investigation Center (YCCI), and Transcelerate. PRCCI achieved a very strategic and significant milestone by providing all PRCCI members with a unique and common Clinical Trial Management System. I want to express my appreciation to the new PRCCI Board of Directors for accepting the opportunity to provide oversight and guidance to the PRCCI organization moving forward.
With over 40 countries participating in the application process for the second generation of Parallel18, the program is fast becoming one of the most diverse accelerators in the United States. It is to be commended for the rapid execution of having a program up and running from scratch. The operations are well managed and the marketing and communication strategies have positioned Parallel18 as a very positive highlight in Puerto Rico’s economic development arena. One of the most significant contributions of Parallel18 is that the participating companies are becoming the deal flow for the emerging angel and venture capital ecosystem in Puerto Rico. There is no doubt that the Parallel18 initiative is significantly enhancing Puerto Rico’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Increasing the level of science and technology research in Puerto Rico and strengthening our research culture are key objectives that we have at the Trust, and that we invite all of our stakeholders to embrace. We at the Trust are celebrating that for the first time Puerto Rico’s applicants received, in one year, four (4) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 grant and one (1) SBIR Phase 2 grant. These results validated that the capacity building and grant programs we have in place are moving us in the right direction. This year the Trust awarded fourteen (14) Science and Technology RFP grants of $150K each and ten (10) Small Research Grants of $70K each. Two distinguished researchers were recruited to the Ponce School of Health through our Researcher Start-Up program. In September we celebrated the Forward Research & Innovation Summit, a showcase event that provided the stage to demonstrate the capabilities of our researchers as well as the projects and investigations that are taking place at our private and public universities, and in Puerto Rico’s small companies. As part of this event we recognized the outstanding scientific contributions of Dr. Gregory Quirk in the neuroscience field. Please take the time to read a good portion of this report that is dedicated to our researchers’ stories because in the end, the Trust performs as an enabler for people to achieve their highest potential.
During the month of May 2016 we celebrated the 2nd workshop for the Puerto Rico Brain Trust for Tropical Diseases Prevention and Diagnostics (Brain Trust). The recommendation of the over 47 local and international experts on vector control was that the first step to reduce Aedes aegypti populations was to create the Puerto Rico Vector Control Unit, as an autonomous nongovernmental entity. The Trust was awarded a cooperative agreement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for five (5) years to establish the Puerto Rico Vector Control Unit, which will carry out a comprehensive integrated vector management program for reducing the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes including a monitoring & control process, surveillance systems and a communications strategy including community mobilization. This Vector Control Unit will work collaboratively with community groups, municipalities, government agencies and different professional organizations to implement an integrated strategy that will include mobilization and community participation, development of a technical infrastructure and information systems for monitoring and controlling mosquitoes that would facilitate their reduction.
As you read this report the Puerto Rico Environmental Research Laboratory and Laboratory Road are being completed. We now have the utility infrastructure to start the full development of Science City. We continue expanding our facilities to accommodate new companies that are joining our ecosystem. We are very excited to be a finalist, with the New Jersey Institute of Technology, for the Innovative Medicine Manufacturing Initiative. If we are selected we will have a pilot facility here at Science City to develop the new process for biopharmaceutical manufacturing.
The Trust has also created a new position which aligns with the Trust’s mission to advance the well-being of Puerto Rico’s citizens through technology. The Director of Cultural Heritage Technology and Innovation, will assist the Trust in the completion of existing tasks such as duties and items relating to the Oso Blanco MOU and technical support for the digitization in the Collections phase of the Biodiversity project. In addition, we hope that this positon will assist in creating a community for digitization and the Digital Humanities here in Puerto Rico. This community will not only be critical for the digital preservation of Puerto Rico’s invaluable cultural heritage, but will also foster new areas of study which consider the cross-over between cultural heritage, the humanities and technology.
I hope that as you read this annual report, you appreciate the passion and commitment demonstrated by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology, and Research Trust Council of Trustees, the management team, and all of our key collaborators and partners. We are all energized to achieve the Trust’s mission of investing, facilitating, and building capacities to continually advance Puerto Rico’s economy and its citizens’ well-being through innovation-driven enterprises, science and technology and its industrial base.
About the PRSTR: The Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust is a private non-profit organization created in 2004 to encourage and promote the innovation, the transfer and commercialization of technology, and the creation of jobs in the technology sector. Is also responsible for Puerto Rico’s public policy for science, technology, research and development. Its mission is to invest, facilitate and build capacity to continually advance Puerto Rico’s economy and its citizens’ well-being through innovation-driven enterprises, science and technology and its industrial base. With a vision that by 2022. Puerto Rico is a globally recognized innovation hub that develops, attracts, and retains scientists, technology entrepreneurs, and enterprises to unlock world class creativity and competitiveness.