Sunday, January 15, 2012

Denver Business Journal: 'VC-backed startups now free to chase SBIR grant money'

Quoting CBSA board members Mark Spiecker and Rick Duke in Greg Avery's article:

"The change will be particularly helpful to many early-stage bioscience companies in Colorado, making them eligible for a program that’s awarded $16 billion in grants since 1997.

'Everybody’s writing SBIR grants or counting on them in one way or another,' said Mark Spiecker, co-founder of Sharklet Technologies.

The Aurora-based startup has survived on SBIR grants that pay for its research into a bacteria-fighting surface coating for medical uses, a technology inspired by the bacteria-fighting properties of shark skin. But that meant limiting the involvement of VC investors.

Sharklet landed $1.2 million in SBIR grants in early 2011. Without them, the company would have shut down, Spiecker said. Sharklet’s pursuing more SBIR grants under the new rules...

...For more established biotechs, the old SBIR ban limited their ability to research new uses for their technologies, said Rick Duke, a veteran biotech entrepreneur who helps run the Colorado Institute for Drug, Device and Diagnostic Development (CID4), a nonprofit incubator for biotech companies.

Now a biotech can use for SBIR grants for research to broaden the number of products the company’s developing, while investors fund getting the first product to market. That should help companies grow faster and be stronger, and speed the development of new medicines.

'It’s helpful from the point of view of continuing to be innovative among companies that are funded with venture capital,' Duke said."

Link to the article that also quoted Cartier Esham, BIO’s senior director on health regulations for emerging companies (subscription required for full article access)

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