Today we talked with Carrie Mcallister, Senior Innovation Consultant at Inspiralia. She shared some insights about the US federal agencies that are now funding R&D for innovative projects in the health sector
Q: Carrie, tell us how big you think this crisis is for small businesses that are now developing new products:
A: Well, just over 10 years ago, the most severe economic disaster since the Great Depression hit the United States. We were not prepared for that and we did not know how it was going to affect the economy. No business or industry was immune, with university endowment funds being reduced as all as a huge drop in the compound annual growth rate of biopharmaceutical industry R&D spending.
It’s unknown how the current economic crisis is going to impact R&D efforts, though it is likely that we will again see a drop in R&D spending for sectors outside of infectious disease and health informatics.
Q: How can we react to this situation then?
A: I see that small businesses in the biotechnology sector are going to be hit even harder, with less private investment. However, small businesses may have one advantage: the ability to rapidly pivot their technology. A second advantage lies in access to non-dilutive federal funding in the form of SBIR grants.
Q: And how does the SBIR program work?
A: Small businesses play an ever-increasing role in innovation and job creation. Recognizing this, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program was established in 1982 through the Small Business Innovation Development Act with the goal of stimulating technological innovation among small private-sector businesses. The latest reauthorization of the program occurred in 2016 as part of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act with an expiration date of September 30, 2022.
All major federal funding agencies participate in the SBIR program; as part of the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the largest funder of biomedical research in the world. While the NIH was not immune to the 2008 recession, it has remained a major source of public R&D funding.
Q: Then, you are saying that companies in the health sector have the possibility to find public funding that can be used to develop their projects?
A: Yes. In fact, with the current pandemic, NIH is devoting significant resources to COVID-19, including emergency funding recently provided in two supplemental bills that are designed to help researchers already working with other organisms, models, or tools that can rapidly pivot to COVID-19. More information about specific opportunities can be found on the NIH website.
Carrie McAllister earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2013 and has extensive experience in drug discovery and development. At Inspiralia, she works with young biotech companies to shape their innovative technologies and win non-dilutive federal funding to further their R&D efforts. In her free time, she enjoys running, knitting, and tall-ship sailing.
If you have a technology, whether it be a novel anti-viral, drug screening platform, or telemedicine technology, there’s funding available for you. We would love to hear how you’re brainstorming ways to address the current crisis. For in-depth guidance on how to pivot your R&D program or a personalized validation of what new funding opportunities your business may be a fit for, please reach out to us.