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NIH SBIR Funding Early Ventures: September 26, 2018 sponsored by Pennovation

Stephen J. Williams PhD, Reporter

Penn Center for Innovation (Pennovation) sponsored a “Meet with NCI SBIR” program directors at University of Pennsylvania Medicine Smilow Center for Translational Research with a presentation on advice on preparing a successful SBIR/STTR application to the NCI as well as discussion of NCI SBIR current funding opportunities.   Time was allotted in the afternoon for one-on-one discussions with NCI SBIR program directors.

To find similar presentations and one-on-one discussions with NCI/SBIR program directors in an area nearest to you please go to their page at:

https://sbir.cancer.gov/newsevents/events

For more complete information on the NCI SBIR and STTR programs please go to their web page at: https://sbir.cancer.gov/about

A few notes from the meeting are given below:

  • In 2016 the SBIR/STTR 2016 funded $2.5 billion (US) of early stage companies; this is compared to the $6.6 billion invested in early  stage ventures by venture capital firms so the NCI program is very competitive with alternate sources of funding
  • It was stressed that the SBIR programs are flexible as far as ownership of a company; SBIR allows now that >50% of the sponsoring company can be owned by other ventures;  In addition they are looking more favorably on using outside contractors and giving leeway on budgetary constraints so AS THEY SUGGEST ALWAYS talk to the program director about any questions you may have well before (at least 1 month) you submit. More on eligibility criteria is found at: https://sbir.cancer.gov/about/eligibilitycriteria
  • STTR should have strong preliminary data since more competitive; if don’t have enough go for  an R21 emerging technologies grant which usually does not require preliminary data
  • For entities outside the US need a STRONG reason for needing to do work outside the US

Budget levels were discussed as well as  the waiver program, which allows for additional funds to be requested based on criteria set by NCI (usually for work that is deemed high priority or of a specialized nature which could not be covered sufficiently under the standard funding limits) as below:

Phase I: 150K standard but you can get waivers for certain work up to 300K

Phase II: 1M with waiver up to 2M

Phase IIB waiver up to 4M

You don’t need to apply for the waiver but grant offices may suggest citing a statement requesting a waiver as review panels will ask for this information

Fast Track was not discussed in the presentation but for more information of the Fast Track program please visit the website  

NCI is working hard to cut review times to 7 months between initial review to funding however at beginning of the year they set pay lines and hope to fund 50% of the well scored grants

NCI SBIR is a Centralized system with center director and then program director with specific areas of expertise: Reach out to them

IMAT Program and Low-Resource Setting new programs more suitable for initial studies and also can have non US entities

Phase IIB Bridge funding to cross “valley of death” providing up to 4M for 2-3 years: most were for drug/biological but good amount for device and diagnostics

 

Also they have announced administrative supplements for promoting diversity within a project: can add to the budget

FY18 Contracts Areas

3 on biotherapies

2 imaging related

2 on health IT

4 on radiation therapy related: NOTE They spent alot of time discussing the contracts centered on radiation therapy and seems to be an area of emphasis of the NCI SBIR program this year

4 other varied topics

 

Breakdown of funding

>70% of NCI SBIR budget went to grants (for instance Omnibus grants); about 20-30% for contracts; 16% for phase I and 34 % for phase II ;

ALSO the success rate considerably higher for companies that talk to the program director BEFORE applying than not talking to them; also contracts more successful than Omnibus applications

Take Advantage of these useful Assistance Programs through the NIH SBIR Program (Available to all SBIR grantees)

NICHE ASSESSMENT Program

From the NCI SBIR website:

The Niche Assessment Program is designed to help small businesses “jump start” their commercialization efforts. All active HHS (NIH, CDC, FDA) SBIR/STTR Phase I awardees and Phase I Fast-Track awardees (by grant or contract) are eligible to apply. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis!

The Niche Assessment Program provides market insight and data that can be used to help small businesses strategically position their technology in the marketplace. The results of this program can help small businesses develop their commercialization plans for their Phase II application, and be exposed to potential partners. Services are provided by Foresight Science & Technology of Providence, RI.

Technology Niche Analyses® (TNA®) are provided by Foresight, for one hundred and seventy-five (175), HHS SBIR/STTR Phase I awardees. These analyses assess potential applications for a technology and then for one viable application, it provides an assessment of the:

  1. Needs and concerns of end-users;
  2. Competing technologies and competing products;
  3. Competitive advantage of the SBIR/STTR-developed technology;
  4. Market size and potential market share (may include national and/or global markets);
  5. Barriers to market entry (may include but is not limited to pricing, competition, government regulations, manufacturing challenges, capital requirements, etc.);
  6. Market drivers;
  7. Status of market and industry trends;
  8. Potential customers, licensees, investors, or other commercialization partners; and,
  9. The price customers are likely to pay.

Commercialization Acceleration Program  (CAP)

From the NIH SBIR website:

NIH CAP is a 9-month program that is well-regarded for its combination of deep domain expertise and access to industry connections, which have resulted in measurable gains and accomplishments by participating companies. Offered since 2004 to address the commercialization objectives of companies across the spectrum of experience and stage, 1000+ companies have participated in the CAP. It is open only to HHS/NIH SBIR/STTR Phase II awardees, and 80 slots are available each year. The program enables participants to establish market and customer relevance, build commercial relationships, and focus on revenue opportunities available to them.

I-Corps Program

The I-Corps program provides funding, mentoring, and networking opportunities to help commercialize your promising biomedical technology. During this 8-week, hands-on program, you’ll learn how to focus your business plan and get the tools to bring your treatment to the patients who need it most.

Program benefits include:

  • Funding up to $50,000 to cover direct program costs
  • Training from biotech sector experts
  • Expanding your professional network
  • Building the confidence and skills to create a comprehensive business model
  • Gaining years of entrepreneurial skills in only weeks.

 

ICORPS is an Entrepreneurial Program (8 week course) to go out talk to customers, get assistance with business models, useful resource which can guide the new company where they should focus on for the commercialization aspect

THE NCI Applicant Assistance Program (AAP)

The SBIR/STTR Applicant Assistance Program (AAP) is aimed at helping eligible small R&D businesses and individuals successfully apply for Phase I SBIR/STTR funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Participation in the AAP will be funded by the NCI, NINDS, and NHLBI with NO COST TO PARTICIPANTS. The program will include the following services:

  • Needs Assessment/Small Business Mentoring
  • Phase I Application Preparation Support
  • Application Review
  • Team/Facilities Development
  • Market Research
  • Intellectual Property Consultation

For more details about the program, please refer to NIH Notice NOT-CA-18-072.

 

These programs are free for first time grant applicants and must not have been awarded previous SBIR

Peer Learning Webinar Series goal to improve peer learning .Also they are starting to provide Regulatory Assistance (see below)

NIH also provides Mentoring programs for CEOS and C level

Application tips

  1. Start early: and obtain letters of collaboration
  2. Build a great team: PI multi PI, consider other partners to fill gaps (academic, consultants, seasoned entrepreneurs (don’t need to be paid)
  3. They will pre review 1 month before due date, use NIH Project Reporter to view previous funded grants
  4. Specify study section in SF to specify areas of expertise for review
  5. Specific aims are very important; some of the 20 reviewers focus on this page (describes goals and milestones as well; spend as much time on this page as the rest of the application
  6. Letters of support from KOLs are important to have; necessary from consultants and collaborators; helpful from clinicians
  7. Have a phase II commercialization plan
  8. Note for non US clinical trials:  They will not fund nonUS clinical trials; the company must have a FWA
  9. SBIR budgets defined by direct costs; can request a 7% fee as an indirect cost; and they have a 5,000 $ technical assistance program like regulatory consultants but if requested can’t participate in NIH technical assistance programs so most people don’t apply for TAP

 

  • They are trying to change the definition of innovation as also using innovative methods (previously reviewers liked tried and true methodology)

10.  before you submit solicit independent readers

NCI SBIR can be found on Twitter @NCIsbir ‏

Discussion with Monique Pond, Ph.D. on Establishment of a Regulatory Assistance Program for NCI SBIR

I was able to sit down with Dr. Monique Pond,  AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow, Health Scientist within the NCI SBIR Development Center to discuss the new assistance program in regulatory affairs she is developing for the NCI SBIR program.  Dr Pond had received her PhD in chemistry from the Pennsylvania State University, completed a postdoctoral fellow at NIST and then spent many years as a regulatory writer and consultant in the private sector.  She applied through the AAAS for this fellowship and will bring her experience and expertise in regulatory affairs from the private sector to the SBIR program. Dr. Pond discussed the difficulties that new ventures have in formulating regulatory procedures for their companies, the difficulties in getting face time with FDA regulators and helping young companies start thinking about regulatory issues such as pharmacovigilence, oversight, compliance, and navigating the complex regulatory landscape.

In addition Dr. Pond discussed the AAAS fellowship program and alternative career paths for PhD scientists.

 

A formal interview will follow on this same post.

 

Other articles on this OPEN ACCESS JOURNAL on Funding for Startups and Early Ventures are given below:

 

Mapping Medical Device Startups Across The Globe per Funding Criteria

Funding Oncorus’s Immunotherapy Platform: Next-generation Oncolytic Herpes Simplex Virus (oHSV) for Brain Cancer, Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM)

 

Funding Opportunities for Cancer Research

 

Team Profile: DrugDiscovery @LPBI Group – A BioTech Start Up submitted for Funding Competition to MassChallenge Boston 2016 Accelerator

 

A Message from Faculty Director Lee Fleming on Latest Issue of Crowdfunding; From the Fung Institute at Berkeley

 

PROTOCOL for Drug Screening of 3rd Party Intellectual Property Presented for Funding Representation

 

Foundations as a Funding Source

 

The Bioscience Crowdfunding Environment: The Bigger Better VC?

 

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