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Entrepreneurship and Innovation Opportunities Regionally and Nationally

Frontiers partners, other CTSA hubs, NCATS and the NIH offer a number of innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities.

University of Kansas

Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation

The Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation (IAMI) nationally known for its innovative translational research approach to product development, including success in advancing re-purposed drugs to patients and high impact collaborations with industry, academia, government, and community partners. IAMI seeks to improve human health by accelerating new drug therapies and medical devices to patients. Promising therapeutic, diagnostic, and medical device projects, discovered and developed within Frontiers’ academic institutions, are licensed into virtual biotechnology companies created by IAMI partner BioNovus Innovations LLC.

IAMI has embraced the high-risk environment of medical innovation development, working over the past 15 years to systematically remove bottlenecks and barriers to translation. This translational research enterprise focused on product development was created by the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (Kansas City), the world’s largest entrepreneurship- focused non-profit. IAMI is home to therapeutic, diagnostic and medical device experts with over 230 years of industry experience. IAMI’s central hypothesis is that selection of high potential academic projects, use of industry input and empowered project teams co-led by Frontiers investigators and IAMI product development experts, with sufficient investment to advance (or de- risk) projects to value inflection points, will yield commercial products that benefit patients.

IAMI’s partnership, CureBridgeCollaborative™, provides sufficient capital investment, through private and venture philanthropy and STTR/SBIR grants, to demonstrate and disseminate technologies with opportunities for Frontiers investigators and trainees to participate.

Funding Opportunity: The IAMI Trailblazer Program provides grant funding and other support for clinical and translational research across a broad range of scientific disciplines. The program objective is to support new and innovative ideas that will lead to externally funded awards. The Frontiers IAMI Trailblazer Award addresses this goal by providing funds to help investigators carry out early-stage project development of novel drugs, devices, and diagnostics. The overall intent is to acquire research results that are disseminated in impactful publications, support successful extramural funding applications, and yield products to be entered into our product development pipeline. The Request for applications is released each spring. Up to two awards of $25,000 are available annually.

KU Innovation Park (Bioscience and Technology Business Center now under this umbrella)

The KU Innovation Park’s mission is to build a more modern, resilient, and diverse regional economy for Lawrence, Douglas County, and the state of Kansas. The Park accomplishes this through creating high-wage jobs and strategically developing the region’s high-growth, innovation-focused bioscience and technology industry clusters – all while leveraging the strengths of the University of Kansas as an affiliate.

KU Innovation Park is a community for cutting-edge researchers, business leaders, and creative entrepreneurs actively working to bring innovative ideas and solutions to commercial markets. The experienced Park team provides a comprehensive range of business management assistance and services in addition to leasing highly-specialized wet lab, dry lab, and professional office space to bioscience and technology companies.

Customizable business services include:

  • Market / Technology Validation
  • Student Business Analyst Support
  • Grant Support and Technical Assistance
  • Capital Strategy Information
  • Finance / Accounting Services
  • Marketing assistance
  • Stakeholder Connections

Funding Opportunities: KU Innovation Park provides the tools to source the proper funding. They offer assistance on tasks to help tenants identify and apply to multiple sources of federal, state, and local non-dilutive funding and other incentives. KU Innovation Park assists with the following:

  1. Identifying funding opportunities
  2. Registrations for DUN, SAM, EIN,,
  3. Commercialization Plan Assistance
  4. Budget development
  5. Letters of Support
  6. Post-award grant administration
  7. Facilitating KU subawards
Innovation + Collaboration - Center for Technology Commercialization

The Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) empowers researchers to bring their ideas and technology to the global community - transforming + saving lives and making businesses work better. The CTC is dedicated to bringing KU-developed research expertise and technology to the marketplace to support industry and spur job growth. Their personnel serve as advisors and guides and provide infrastructure that supports and translates technology. The CTC can help to connect with resources and partners to create the greatest impact.

Funding Opportunities

Learn More About Internal Funding: The KU Office of Research offers a variety of internal award programs that support the research, scholarship and creative activity of faculty and staff at the University of Kansas.

Learn More About External Funding: Maintaining an informed perspective on the funding landscape can be challenging. The Office of Research provides resources to help you search for external funding opportunities, network with federal agency program officers, build collaborations, and optimize your competitiveness for awards.

Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (K-INBRE)

The purpose of the K-INBRE is to promote multidisciplinary research networks with a focus on Cell and

Developmental Biology; increase the research base and capacity through research support; provide a range of basic science and clinical research opportunities for student trainees; serve as a pipeline for students to continue in health research careers in IDeA states; and enhance science and technology knowledge of the state’s workforce.

Specific Aims:

  • Aim 1: Maintain and improve the current multidisciplinary research network in Cell and Developmental Biology in the State of Kansas, strengthening both communication channels and research infrastructure
  • Aim 2: Enhance science and technology knowledge and integration in Kansas by offering sophisticated bioinformatics technology and education
  • Aim 3: Stimulate basic and translational research in the State of Kansas via mentored, interdisciplinary research opportunities

Funding Opportunities:

·        Faculty Funding Awards

o   Partnerships for Translational Research Training Awards

·        Post-doctoral Awards

o  Entrepreneurial Scholar

  • Support is provided for undergraduate students interested in Entrepreneurial research opportunities. This program has been developed in collaboration with the KUMC Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation (IAMI), which brings together philanthropy, industry and universities to collaborate in advancing university innovations in life sciences. IAMI identifies and partners high potential academic projects with industry-experienced leadership to enhance the yield of commercial products that benefit patients. This competitive award can fund up to two scholars.
  • Entrepreneurial Scholar Award Submission Guidelines

*All funding opportunities are contingent on future awards from the NIH

Midwest Biomedical Accelerator Consortium

The Midwest Biomedical Accelerator Consortium (MBArC) is a partnership between the University of Missouri (lead), University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) and the National Institutes of Health Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hubs (NIH REACH).

The goal of MBArC is to provide funding, training, and education to academic researchers to accelerate the transition of discoveries originating from research labs into products that improve health. To be eligible for this funding opportunity, a technology must be an idea or invention based on a participating institution’s intellectual property and should not be licensed/optioned to a company. Promising proof-of-concept work emerging out of the Hub will be ready for the next source of independent financing through viable start-up companies competitive for small business grants, private capital investment, or licensing opportunities.

The MBArC network will employ the following strategies to increase biomedical research commercialization:

  • Leverage MBArC’s geographic and institutional scope to develop strategic partnerships that invite scientists to engage in technology transfer and commercialization,
  • Give academic researchers the training and resources needed to validate the clinical and commercial feasibility of their innovations,
  • Provide researchers with funding and mentorship to complete product definition studies and attract follow-on funding, and
  • Offer experiential learning opportunities in biomedical entrepreneurship

Applications should involve ideas that originate from within a participating institution (making them potentially eligible for patent protection or some other mechanism that will return income to the program) or university-derived technologies with pending/issued patents or copyright. Technologies that are already licensed/optioned to a company are not eligible.

Funding Opportunity: MBArC funds translational research projects that have the potential to improve patient and health care. Awards of up to $200,000 for a year are used for product definition studies (e.g., feasibility studies, prototype development, proof-of-concept studies) comprised of critical go/no-go milestones. Applicants who are invited to submit a full proposal work with the MBArC Program Office and/or mentors to validate their unmet medical need and establish a technology development and commercialization strategy. Funded projects are actively managed by the Program Office under a market-focused project management oversight and decision-making plan. Continued funding of an MBArC project is contingent upon successful and timely completion of project milestones.

Center for Health Innovation and Transformative Care

*In partnership with The University of Kansas Health System

Launched in 2022, the Center for Health Innovation and Transformative Care is a joint venture of The University of Kansas Medical Center, The University of Kansas Health System, and the affiliated Clinical Departments focused on the intersection of digital health and the future practice of medicine.  We strive to deliver better care for everyone, everywhere, every day.  Quality health care that enhances patient and provider experience while improving outcomes is at the heart of what we do.  Our vision is to weave digital stitching into the art of medicine by combining multidisciplinary expertise, behavioral insights, and digital technologies to enhance outcomes and support provider practice.  Together, we develop and implement novel health care delivery innovations to improve the health of our patients and community.  By nurturing a culture of clinical innovation, the center serves as an facilitator for maximizing our opportunity for individual, department, and institutional research, talent, and entrepreneurial goals.

Strategic partnerships for agile R&D and speed to market

Artificial Intelligence for Healthcare

Our physician scientists are developing big data-driven algorithms with specialized training that have power to:

  1. Augment physician expertise
  2. Inform diagnosis and treatment decisions
  3. Identify most effective treatment pathways
  4. Support post-treatment monitoring
  5. Improve health outcomes and quality of life 

Digitally Enabled Medical Devices

Our experts are creating digital technologies, devices, and custom instruments to:

  1. Improve the patient and caregiver experience
  2. Monitor patient health remotely
  3. Enable better data-driven treatment decisions
  4. Extend technical capabilities in surgery
  5. Transfer tech from our labs to the market

Educational and research resources to advance capabilities

Innovators Academy

Project-based learning and resources to inspire and support innovative R&D

  1. Culture of innovation: Learning opportunities to change how we think
  2. Project management: Concierge, navigation, coordination support
  3. R&D resources: Rapid pilots, funding development, scale up supports
  4. Commercialization & scholarship: Tech transfer, business development, dissemination

Research Fellowship

Advancing innovation research across all specialties through engagement of students and trainees at all  levels

  1. Harnessing creative energy of bright young minds
  2. Human power to execute R&D projects
  3. Learning opportunities to develop and advance academic careers
  4. Collegial space for sharing ideas and collaborating across disciplines
  5. Opening eyes to benefits of multi-disciplinary R&D and commercialization


The following vignette is applicable to any number of clinical specialties…

Imagine you are a young practitioner in western Kansas or urban Kansas City, and in your office is a patient you are meeting for the first time.  You suspect that patient may have Alzheimer's, but you are unsure how to make the diagnosis, uneasy about how to speak to this life altering condition, and not sure what to do next. 

Now, imagine if there is an application on your phone, in which you can record the voice of the patient and then using an Al algorithm, can accurately predict the diagnosis of Alzheimer's.  You then can use that app to help you communicate this information in an ethical manner and to supply needed educational materials to the patient and their caregivers.  There is then a seamless care delivery system in which you can get them to the right expert, at the right time and place, for the best outcome.  It may sound simple but there is an impressive amount of multidisciplinary expertise needed to make this a seamless, efficient, and effective process.

You need the clinicians to identify the need. In this case it is the use of voice for the diagnosis of a cognitive disorder. In other specialties, it may be the use of an ECG to diagnose and treat cardiomyopathy or the use of a CT scan to find occult primary cancers.

  1. Data scientists to help compile, analyze, and isolate the meaningful data
  2. Computer scientists to write the Al algorithms.
  3. Engineers to prototype and develop the hardware that houses the intervention.
  4. User interface and experience designers, to make this seamless to the provider and easy for the patient. To take away fear of the tech to patients and providers.
  5. Ethicists to help you responsibly deliver this information, especially to vulnerable patient populations.
  6. Regulatory and legal experts to guide patent applications and FDA approvals.
  7. Dissemination and implementation experts to help design the studies that will bring this idea to fruition in a matter of months as opposed to decades.
  8. Patient advocates and health care system to test, improve upon, and validate the invention.

And with this comes the payoff - peer-reviewed validation (publications and grants) and a pathway to commercialism.

This is the vision of the Center for Innovation and Transformative Health Care at KU: Weaving Digital Stitching into the Art of Medicine

Children’s Mercy Kansas City

Center for Pediatric Innovation

The Center's goals are to advance our mission, build our reputation and create new sustainability models/revenue streams. Children's Mercy collaborates with global strategic partners to deliver solutions that create a world of wellbeing for all children.

The innovation process consists of three important phases. These phases include need, solution and market validation. The innovation team at Children's Mercy has experience in consumer goods, product and software development, intellectual property management, and go-to-market strategy.

Children’s Mercy is interested in collaborating with start-ups, entrepreneurs and other entities to develop solutions that improve the health and wellbeing of children. In addition, Children’s Mercy wants to engage with companies that can prototype, develop and provide other competencies to help us deliver our solutions to the pediatric market.

Health Care Innovation

A new idea to improve the health and wellbeing of children and their families can come from anyone, from anywhere, and at any time. But guiding the development of that idea into a technologically savvy and commercially ready product is often a complicated process requiring specialized expertise. 

The Health Care Innovation Area of Emphasis (AOE) at the Children’s Mercy Research Institute (CMRI) accelerates and expands the pace of discovery, translation, and dissemination in the rapidly shifting health care landscape. It does so by collaborating with faculty, staff, and partners to identify intellectual property development opportunities for products and processes – all with an eye toward optimizing the medical, surgical, and therapeutic management of children.

Along the way to product development, the Health Care Innovation AOE works with the innovator to:

  • Conduct landscape surveys that define the clinical and business opportunity surrounding their idea
  • Define a scientific, business, and regulatory roadmap that is unique to their idea and aligns with their professional objectives, interests, and responsibilities
  • Identify funding mechanisms to advance their innovation
  • Identify strategic partners that can provide education, mentoring, and technical support as they develop their idea

After conception, the Health Care Innovation AOE works to align the products’ technological and commercial readiness to ensure inventors are well positioned to strategically advance their innovations beyond the walls of Children’s Mercy.

Funding Opportunity:  CMRI Innovation Incubator Award provide support for promising initiatives and projects and give inventors a better understanding of the innovation process from start to finish.


Kansas State University

Kansas State University Intellectual Property and Inventions

Understand the commercialization process: Goal is to promote, encourage, and aid scientific investigation, research, and technology transfer. They strive to assist K-State's faculty, staff, and students in developing and protecting their discoveries and inventions to return the greatest advantage to the creators, K-State and the general public.

Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship

Courses focus on developing an entrepreneurial mindset. The entrepreneurial mindset includes a set of skills that are necessary to be successful in any profession today whether you decide to start a new business or work for an existing organization.

Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (15 credit hours) – Option to take a few classes

Entrepreneurship and innovation is a dynamic process of vision, change and disruption. Learn how to build entrepreneurial skills within your chosen degree program while enhancing your career success in any industry.

Kansas State University entrepreneurship students will develop the necessary skills to make innovative ideas become a reality, specifically by:

  • Developing an understanding of the entrepreneurial process, from idea generation to the implementation of a new business or social venture.
  • Gaining the ability to identify, research and analyze potential markets that would enhance value and profitability.
  • Developing an understanding of the concept of risk and how its effect on new ventures can be minimized.
  • Demonstrating the capacity to identify and acquire the resources needed for the creation and implementation of a new venture.
K-State Accelerator

The Accelerator provides entrepreneurs access to world-class K-State faculty, students, and alumni support to help launch or grow their business.

Participating ventures receive:

  • Custom startup lessons designed and delivered by top K-State faculty
  • One-on-one mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs in the K-State network
  • Hands-on market and competitor research conducted by K-State business school students
  • Each venture successfully completing the program is invited to pitch at Demo Day with access to $100,000 in equity-free grants
Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge

The Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge (KEC) is sponsored by the Kansas Masonic Foundation and Kansas Masons in partnership with Kansas State University and the Network Kansas Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge (YEC) Series to promote entrepreneurship and small business development in Kansas. The competition is for student created, managed, and owned ventures.

KEC Prep Course

Students participating in the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge are strongly encouraged to complete the exercises in the KEC Prep Course in preparation for the event. Each student selected to compete at the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge who has successfully completed the exercises will receive a Certificate of Completion and an additional $50 in prize money.

University of Missouri Kansas City

UMKC Office of Technology Commercialization

The Office of Technology Commercialization helps UMKC researchers share their discoveries by:

·        Protect intellectual property

·        Decide when it's in your best interest to publish or patent

·        Disclose your invention

·        Explore your invention's commercial potential

UMKC Innovation Center

The UMKC Innovation Center unlocks the potential of entrepreneurship by helping people turn their ideas and innovations into ventures that shape an economy of hope.

KCSourceLink helps aspiring startups and established businesses find the right business resources to start, scale or accelerate.

Funding Opportunities: KCSourceLink assist to find loans, grants and equity funding for Kansas City business – and who can help.

Technology Venture Studios nurture, support and grow the region’s founders and their early-stage innovations.

  • Whiteboard 2 Boardroom Program – Speed to Market. Through the Whiteboard 2 Boardroom® program, the Studio accelerates innovation by connecting entrepreneurs and established businesses to technologies at research universities, hospitals and corporations across the bi-state region.
  • Digital Sandbox KC – Funding for Growth. Through Digital Sandbox KC, the Studio provides critical proof-of-concept funding, mentoring and connections to help founders build viable innovations ready for follow-on funding.
  • KCInvestEd – Primed for Investment. KCInvestEd connects investors in the Kansas City area with resources, events and tools to learn more about investing in early-stage companies.

Entrepreneurial Education unlocks the potential of our region’s entrepreneurs with a continuum of business-building education.

  • ELEVATIONLAB - From single classes to multi-session workshops, the ELEVATIONLAB helps startups, scaleups and technology ventures level up their business skills and professional networks.
  • Missouri SBDC - Small business owners avoid blind spots, overcome challenges and meet the next milestone with comprehensive, one-on-one coaching from the Missouri Small Business Development Center’s certified business consultants.
Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

The Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation programs help facilitate early-stage startups from the concept phase to a sustainable launch in a safe environment of learning, experimenting and mentoring. The institute offers formal entrepreneurship education to enrolled UMKC students and we provide educational opportunities for members of the community who are looking for guidance and support as they prepare to launch new ventures.

United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) Bio-Med and Health Care Technology Entrepreneurship Certification Program

The Bio-Medical/Healthcare Technology Entrepreneurship Certificate Program (Program) is designed to provide a solid grounding in process of translating bio-medical and healthcare innovations into entrepreneurial ventures that can expeditiously bring the benefits of such innovations to society. It is designed to provide education to clinical and other researchers whether or not they are currently working on a project with the intention of forming a company or otherwise commercializing their innovation. The curriculum was designed with input from researchers, entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurship educators. It is structured to deliver to enrollees detailed examinations of key components of the entrepreneurial process through instruction and interactive discussion with experienced educators and the perspectives of bio-med/healthcare entrepreneurs and opportunities to engage with them in discussions of the lessons they have learned through their endeavors.

Regional Entrepreneurship

BioNexus KC

For over 20 years, BioNexus KC has been advancing the region’s strengths in digital health, cancer research, health equity, informatics and rare disease.

Funding Opportunities: Research grants are awarded to encourage regional collaboration and to stimulate the development and submission of major multidisciplinary proposals from life sciences researchers to government or private funding agencies. The grants help generate the critical preliminary data needed to develop competitive proposals. Awards are up to $50,000 for one year and are intended to leverage institutional strengths and investigators collective expertise. Submitted proposals undergo rigorous scientific peer review modeled after that used by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Completed reviews from submitted proposals are provided to investigators, regardless of whether they are selected for funding, which they use to refine future grant proposals.

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Entrepreneurship

The Kauffman Foundation (Kauffman) provides educational resources for entrepreneurs, works to accelerate metro-area entrepreneurship hubs, and supports organizations that assist entrepreneurs. The Kauffman also works to advance entrepreneurship by providing research-based knowledge to entrepreneurs, policymakers and others.

The Kauffman seeks to support the start and growth of new businesses through programs, policies, and practices that give rise to equitable access to entrepreneurship. Their work helps remove systemic barriers that prevent entrepreneurs from starting and growing businesses, especially for people who have historically been disinvested. Through entrepreneur-focused economic development and a prepared workforce, they support entrepreneurs and their communities in starting, growing, and scaling businesses in Kansas City, the Heartland, and around the United States.

Entrepreneurship Focus Areas and Educational Opportunities:

  • Research, Knowledge Creation, & Economic Trends
  • Entrepreneurship Ecosystems & Policy Impact
  • Entrepreneurial Learning & Support
  • Capital Innovation

Funding Opportunities currently are not available when they transition to serve Kansas City, work more collaboratively and prepare the Foundation more intentionally.

Pipeline Entrepreneurs

Pipeline is a network of high-performing entrepreneurs who call the Midwest home. Our entrepreneurs have access to a renowned national network of experts who share a passion for the Pipeline family. Through Pipeline, entrepreneurs invest in their own professional development, and also give generously of their time, talent and capital to enable them to build global businesses from wherever they choose. Pipeline takes zero equity in Member companies, focusing on the entrepreneur first.

A prestigious year-long Pipeline Fellowship program is designed to empower the Midwest’s top high-growth entrepreneurs and their businesses. Fellows gain access to a national network of successful entrepreneurs like you who are making an impact in their community. Fellows will learn how to become a better entrepreneur, grow your business and develop a network of support for this race we call entrepreneurship. This year-long fellowship program is defined by four, three-day modules throughout the year which are focused on topics such as business models, financials, market validation and much more. The goal of these modules is to support our entrepreneurs in growing their companies and themselves. In addition to these modules, each Fellow is paired with a mentor and will receive critical individual support as well as expert advice from our panel of national advisers and experts.

After the initial fellowship year, fellows are invited to become a lifelong Member of the pipeline family. Member benefits include professional development, founder resource groups, crisis management support, mental resilience workshops as well as access to perks like Amazon Web Services credits, HubSpot special offers, discounted group health insurance and much more.

iWerx Entrepreneurial Development Center

Sprouted from a commitment to community, iWerx is dedicated to fostering partnership within the Northland business communities as well as among its members. They believe in intentional networking and a colliding of like-minded, forward-thinking business people. They carry out this philosophy by hosting weekly and monthly networking such as Northland Coffee Connect and Cocktails and Collaboration. iWerx has Month-To-Month Coworking, Event & Meeting Space, Marketing & Business Support, and Network & Growth Programs for entrepreneurs. iWerx houses and nurtures startups and post-revenue small businesses.

The iWerx property development and ownership is guided by Stor-Safe corporation with management, business systems and business growth support by EnCorps45, an organization that promotes multi-generational economies.

National Institutes of Health Small Business Funding Programs

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs provide support to early-stage small businesses. Many companies leverage NIH funding to attract the partners and investors needed to take an innovation to market. The NIH focuses on a variety of high-impact technologies ranging from research tools to diagnostics, digital health, drugs, medical devices, and others. The SBIR and STTR programs can provide seed funding needed to bring scientific innovations from the bench to the bedside.

The program goals are to: 

Learn more about the differences in the funding mechanisms, budgets and timelines.

National Entrepreneurship Educational Programs


The I-Corps@ NCATS program is a 5-week short course, based upon the successful National Science Foundation I-Corps and I-Corps at NIH Entrepreneurial Training Program, which combines business model training with a customer discovery process. The short course helps prepare teams to apply to go on to a national program at NSF or NIH, and is designed to help all participants, regardless of the stage of development of their innovation.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) will enhance the process of scientific translation by taking the demonstrated lessons learned and best practices from the     I-Corps@NCATS program and disseminating them across a wider network of Clinical and Translational Science Awards Hubs.

The goal is to improve the health of our communities by speeding up the process of moving new discoveries from our research labs into new treatments and cures for patients.  This is accomplished by helping academic researchers better understand the process for how to bring a new innovation to market and how to accelerate the process while reducing the risk that an innovation will fail.

FFMI fastPACE at the University of Michigan

FFMI fastPACE is a project-based, experiential course designed to help academics launch new innovations, including medical devices/diagnostics, digital solutions, drugs, educational/training interventions, research tools, and many others. The multi-week course matches innovators with expert teaching team members for guidance on the development of a business case for adoption, implementation, or commercialization. Graduates of the course have gone on to use their business case to forge new development partnerships, secure funding, and extend their network of support.

Interested in Learning More?

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