First Flight chosen for federal initiative to combat health security threats

FFVC is one of eight accelerators selected to partner with DRIVe to accelerate innovation for U.S. health security, daily medical care.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (June 7, 2018) – First Flight Venture Center (FFVC), a high-science, high-impact technology incubator located in Research Triangle Park, has been selected as one of eight accelerators in the country by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to drive innovation in lifesaving medical technologies to solve challenging problems spanning modern health security threats and daily medical care. Officials from HHS announced the DRIVe initiative in a news release Tuesday. DRIVe (Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures) is a part of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) within the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).

According to the HHS, as an accelerator within DRIVe, FFVC will explore innovative technologies and products that can be developed to solve healthcare challenges that extend beyond traditional vaccine and drug development. FFVC will also assist startups and other businesses in developing their technologies and products by connecting them with essential product development and business support services.

“We’re pleased that the HHS and its agencies have recognized the potential for accelerators like First Flight Venture Center to be part of solving the technical challenges in healthcare,” said Andrew Schwab, FFVC president. “We look forward to working with innovators, startups, businesses, and other accelerators within the DRIVe network to develop innovative solutions to health security issues that pose a threat to people living in the U.S.”

One of the first challenging problems DRIVe will tackle is the need for earlier detection of infection, creating technology that can alert people when they have been infected with a bacteria or virus even before they begin to feel sick, said HHS in the news release. The second is the urgent need to solve sepsis, the body’s life-threatening response to infection or traumatic injury. According to HHS, sepsis is a top cause of hospitalization in America, leads to 250,000 deaths annually and costs approximately $24 billion a year to treat. 

DRIVe will oversee the accelerator network and is recruiting a nonprofit partner that can work with private investors to fund innovative technologies and products to solve these and other systemic health security challenges. DRIVe also can invest in the projects using quick, streamlined funding methods.

“Accelerators are part of a new business-friendly approach,” said Deputy Secretary for Health and Human Services Eric Hargan. “This approach will help startups and other businesses shape the next generation of lifesaving technology and transform health security. That innovation is crucial to protecting Americans and saving lives.”

“At a time when artificial intelligence and personalized medicine are not just conceivable but attainable, the time is uniquely now to solve some of the most daunting, far-reaching health security problems,” said Rick Bright, BARDA director.

With the accelerators, startups and other businesses have a new pathway to bring ideas together, nurture them with experienced partners, and direct them to BARDA’s experts who have demonstrated success in partnering with private industry to take new ideas to regulatory approval, Bright added. 

First Flight Venture Center received approximately $98,000 in a DRIVe grant to serve as an accelerator. Other accelerators are: MedTech Innovator (Los Angeles), New Orleans BioInnovation Center, SUNY Research Foundation (Stony Brook, NY), Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute (Houston), University City Science Center (Philadelphia), Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (Lowell), and Life Science Washington Institute (Seattle).

First Flight Venture Center is located at 2 Davis Drive in RTP, North Carolina. Those interested in becoming a member or sponsor of FFVC can visit, or contact FFVC President Andrew Schwab at FFVC can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

About First Flight Venture Center

First Flight Venture Center (FFVC) is a high-science, high-impact incubator located in the heart of Research Triangle Park. Established in 1991, with a mission to support the development and growth of high-science, high-impact entrepreneurial companies by providing the tailored resources, guidance, connections, and support required for their commercial success.

About HHS, ASPR, and BARDA

HHS works to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans, providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services. The mission of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is to save lives and protect Americans from 21st century health security threats. Within ASPR, BARDA invests in the advanced research and development, acquisition, and manufacturing of medical countermeasures – vaccines, drugs, therapeutics, diagnostic tools, and non-pharmaceutical products needed to combat health security threats. For more about ASPR and BARDA, visit their website. To partner with DRIVe, visit their website


For more information, contact:

Andrew Schwab

President, First Flight Venture Center (FFVC)



Christina Sandidge

Public Relations Specialist, BtB Marketing


Geoff Dunkak