At a meeting with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), I learned of a few initiatives that are focused on early-stage life science companies. It appears that the NCI, along with the National Institute of Health, are making efforts to make obtaining pre-investor money easier. This is even better for Kentucky companies, since the state will match both Phase I and Phase II investments.
The first step the NCI is taking is to create SBIR/STTR experts within their program managers. In the past, NCI had 50 program managers that would handle a variety of funding programs, from small grants to large research projects. Going forward, NCI will have 8 program managers that are focused solely on the SBIR/STTR programs. This should help streamline the process.
NCI is also implementing a new Bridge program to help ensure projects move smoothly from Phase II (research and R&D) to Phase III (commercialization). The new Bridge program will follow-on to Phase II grants and will award up to $1 million/year for up to 3 years. The award will be used to match any money the companies have raised. I did confirm that state dollars (including matching dollars) will count.
The NCI also mentioned that they are working on a number of programs using stimulus money. More on that as it develops.