Accelerating Innovation: Funding for Women Entrepreneurs in Biotechnology and Healthcare


Monique LaRocque: Good afternoon. My name
is Monique LaRocque, and I would like to thank you for joining the webinar today: Accelerating
Innovation Funding for Women Entrepreneurs in Biotechnology and Health Care. A few short
quick announcements. We will be taking questions throughout and monitoring them and you can
use the chat feature on the right of the webinar on your screen to send questions to the organizers,
and we will be responding to them during the Q&A period. There is closed captioning available,
and if you need technical assistance at any time, you can call 1-855-352-9002. Please
note at the conclusion of the webinar, we have an evaluation and feedback. We value
your insights, your perspectives, and your questions. Please do stick around for that
evaluation. To go through the agenda today, we will introduce
our speakers. We will have a short session on the landscape of women in science and biotech,
and then we will get into the meat of our discussion, helping to provide a detailed
overview of the SBIR and STTR programs at NCATS, NHLBI, and NCI. We’ll go through
some quick tips and solutions to help you be successful, as well as a technical assistance
program followed by a moderated Q&A session. On behalf of the National Center for Advancing
Translational Sciences, I’d like to thank all of you for attending, as well as our collaborators,
including the Association of Women in Science, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
(NHLBI), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), as well as the Coalition of State Bioscience
Institutes. What we hope to accomplish today is we hope
that following the session, you’ll have an increased understanding about the funding
opportunities that are available for women entrepreneurs and researchers. We want to
really offer support to you and respond to your questions and then offer post-webinar
support as well to applicants from women-owned businesses. And in general want to start a
dialogue with you so that we can engage on interesting projects and ideas. To introduce our speakers for today, you’ll
be hearing from Heather Metcalf from AWIS, Lili Portilla from NCATS, Chris Sasiela from
NHLBI, and Korey Hallett from NCI. And with that, I turn it over to Heather. Heather Metcalf: Hello everyone, it’s a pleasure
to be here. As the director for research and analysis with the Association for Women in
Science, I’d like to first start off by addressing some of the challenges that we
found in the research surrounding gender, science and biotech, and innovation entrepreneurship
and science commercialization. Then I’ll talk about the wealth of resources available
to address some of those challenges. So what are the challenges in this space? The research
shows stark gender differences and financial resource acquisition for entrepreneurship,
particularly with regard to obtaining early-stage financing and startup capital. Research conducted
by the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy shows that women are significantly
less likely than men to start or acquire firms with business loans from banks or financial
institutions and are less likely to receive venture capital. Research shows similar patterns
in angel investments as well. Investment competition and experimental research at Harvard and MIT
has also demonstrated that when the same pitch content is presented to potential investors,
men are more than twice as likely to have their entrepreneurial pitches funded than
women. As a result, women start firms with less capital than men. According to the Crosman
Firm survey between 2004 and 2008, 61.8 percent of women started firms with less than $25,000
compared to 55.9 percent of men. The survey research also shows that firms that started
with more than 125,000 in capital perform significantly better than the lower-capital
startups in assets, revenue, and employment. Our A-list research shows similar disparities
in company leadership positions as well. In 2015, among the 73 biotech companies that
made their initial public offerings, only five had women CEOs, and 21 percent had no
women in any leadership position whatsoever. This is both a social justice issue and a
financial issue. Research has demonstrated specific benefits to those companies with
women among their leadership. Those companies that have at least three women among their
directorship have seen significant gains in return on investing capital, return on sales,
and return on equity, especially if women’s involvement in directorship is sustained for
four out of five years. Those companies with at least one woman director experience greater
long-term stockholder value as well. One way to address these gaps is to provide women
entrepreneurs, business owners, and innovators with the necessary knowledge to strengthen
their applications for capital. SBIR grant funding can be one such source
of capital, as we’ll find out more about today. It funds small innovative firms with
pre-prototype technologies during the phase of funding that our research has shown to
be the most difficult to obtain, particularly for women. We still see gaps in SBIR awards
to women, for instance, reports from the Small Business Administration and the National Academy
of Science show that women-owned firms receive about 12 percent of Phase 1 awards and 11
percent of Phase 2 awards. At the NIH, we’re seeing awards to women-owned
businesses increasing and we hope to see this pattern continue in federal funding, particularly
if efforts to increase the transparency and equity of application and award processes
are made. Traditionally there are many opportunities available to strengthen applications, including
help from the experts on these issues. The webinar that you all are participating in
today is a great example of this and has been put together through the collaborative effort
of experts that were mentioned at the beginning of the webinar, including the Association
for Women in Science, NCATS, NHLBI, and NCI. The Association for Women in Science offers
a number of additional resources, research-driven programs, and initiatives at the individual
and organizational levels. As you’ll be hearing shortly from our other speakers, NCATS,
NHLBI, and NCI have several grant resources that are available and are specific to small
businesses in SBIR and STTR funding. The Small Business Administration and National Women’s
Business Council offer many opportunities as well for those who wish to engage in innovative
and entrepreneurial activities, and they have particular research and programs that focus
on women, minority, and immigrant entrepreneurs. They have a webinar that’s coming out on
Monday on the tipping points for women’s entrepreneurship. Your STEM disciplinary and
professional societies also often host their own initiatives aimed at science and engineering
commercialization. Many offices on university campuses have been established for these purposes,
including tech transfer offices and research and development offices. There are a number
of organizations that are aware of these equity issues that I mentioned earlier and that focus
on helping businesses and innovators obtain funding, angel investments, and venture capital.
Many of these are local, so if you take a look around your local area, you may see a
lot of what’s available there. A few examples of these organizations include Golden Seeds,
Springboard, QB3, [indiscernible] Startup in a Box, The Launch Pad, ACTiVATE, 1776,
and parent polling doctorate. Funding agencies and particularly our program officers within
those funding agencies are key resources in proposal development. Program officers really
want to hear from and support investigators prior to seeing a grant submission cross their
desks. However, they are an often under-utilized resource, so forming a key relationship with
your program officer can really strengthen your proposal. There are a number of innovation
and entrepreneurship programs that are available as well. At AWIS, we’re about to host our third National
Summit on innovation and entrepreneurship, which takes place in Chicago on March 31 and
it has a focus on the health and medical sciences. It brings together innovators and entrepreneurs
with equity-minded policymakers, governmental agencies, academics, funders, and company
leaders, and provides a wealth of information to attendees and speakers. For more information
about our summit, you can go to innovation-summit.org. Other programs include the Kauffman Foundation’s
fast-track venture program, the White House inclusive entrepreneurship program and Demo
Day, and the NCATS and NHLBI technical assistance programs, which will be discussed shortly.
Another valuable opportunity lies in your mentoring network. Broadening that network
to specifically include mentors who will serve as your sponsor; who have knowledge, like
business knowledge, that you might not have; who have experience, for example, other women
entrepreneurs who have successfully started their own companies and have experiences that
connect to yours, and also those who have successfully been funded. These mentors can
share a wealth of information with you about what to expect, how and where to seek funding,
and how you can handle any roadblocks that you might encounter along the way. Lastly,
if your proposal is rejected, consider the reviewer’s feedback, revise, and try again.
Research illustrates that men are more likely than women to resubmit after a rejection.
Making use of your program officer and reviewer comments can significantly help strengthen
your proposal and increase its chances of success the next time around, so don’t give
up if you are first rejected. Thank you. Lili Portilla: Hi, this is Lili Portilla,
and I’d like to welcome everyone this afternoon to our webinar. I’m the director of strategic
alliances here at NCATS and also the SBIR program manager for the Center. So what are
the SBIR and STTR programs? Well, the main purpose of them is to help entrepreneurial
researchers as they launch businesses and engage in R&D to seek to find a way of commercializing
new products, at least from the NIH perspective that if they have public benefits. SBIR supports
early-stage research and development projects at small businesses while the STTR program
helps small businesses that allows them to formally collaborate with research institutions
in both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the SBIR grant. What are the benefits of the SBIR and STTR
program? It is one of the largest funding sources of early-stage life sciences in the
country, and I’ll show you some figures relating to NIH in a few minutes. It’s stable
and predictable, it’s a set-aside program which is mandated by Congress that funding
agencies such as the NIH and our sister organizations like BBC and SBA set aside money for this
program. IP rights are held by the small business, not by the funding agency. It’s not a loan,
non-dilutive capital. One of the big pluses, at least from our perspective that we feel,
is that the projects go through a rigorous peer-review system here at NIH, which allows
the awardee to leverage that review and that validation of their technology to attract
additional funding and other strategic partnerships. So if you look across — this was something
that was mandated by Congress and there was a recent reauthorization of the program, and
during that reauthorization, the set-aside for SBIR and STTR were increased on a yearly
basis starting from October 2013 to 2017, and currently in 2016 you can see here what
the set-aside is for SBIR versus STTR. Here at the NIH, our overall budget across all
of the 27 Centers and Institutes that exist here at the NIH is about $31 billion. With
the set-aside for the SBIR program is now approximately about $800 million, and that
is as a result of our increase in the budget that we had here at the NIH. You’re talking
about a significant amount of funding that is set aside for this program. There are budget hard caps that exist for
the program. When I speak of a Phase 1 versus Phase 2, it’s not what SBA considers to be
a Phase 1 or Phase 2 grant. That’s just the name of the program, of these various
stages of the program. I’ll get into a little bit more detail as to what those entail in
a few minutes. But the award guidelines here at NIH are $150,000 for the Phase 1 and up
to 1 million for the Phase 2. However, we do have these hard caps. Even though I talked
about these award guidelines, you can go up higher but no higher than $225,000 for a Phase
1 and $1.5 million for a Phase 2. All of this is described in the notice that we have here
at the bottom of this slide that goes into detail as to what the differences are between
these award guidelines versus the award hard caps. Just know that the award hard caps stay
at about 225,000 for Phase 1. Having said that, there are some additional things to
consider. There are some topics that the NIH funds that do allow them to go past that 225,000
hard cap that I mentioned. Those topics are listed as part of the Omnibus Solicitation.
If you go to the Appendix A of the Program and Description Guide that’s in that funding
announcement, you will be able to see what topics the NIH has the authority to go past
the hard caps of 225. For each of the Institutes participating, they have various topics and
various funding limits, so it’s best to read what those funding limits are, based on what
Institute you intend to apply to. Regarding the funding overview, I want to — I’m going
to talk about the Omnibus Solicitation, which as you can see here, I’m going to call them
investigator-initiated grant funding under the specific program. It has the deadlines
of April 5, September 5, and January 5. I’m going to
talk about the Direct to Phase 2 Grant program
under the SBIR. Also, there are targeted solicitations at various Institutes across the NIH that
some of the ICs (Institutes and Centers) have identified as top priority areas that are
specific solicitations around certain topics. And then, once a year at the NIH, some of
the Institutes participate in what’s called the SBIR contract solicitation, which are
not grants but contracts that are funded under the SBIR program. That is once a year, and
usually those solicitations are made available to the public at the end of September/beginning
of October. Let’s talk about what the SBIR/STTR program
looks like. Again, when we talk about a Phase 1 in SBIR, we’re talking about that discovery
stage, primarily feasibility studies that are done to help move a technology — some
development of a technology. The Phase 2 part of the program is a full R&D type of proposal.
Phase 3 is commercialization hopefully, and that is when you are partnering up with another,
having a strategic partnership, some venture capital funding, but the primary part of what
NIH funds under this program are the Phase 1 and Phase 2 grants. So a fast-track opportunity — when we talk
about fast-track here at the NIH, we’re talking about proposals that are submitted
that not only cover projects under a Phase 1 part of the grant, but also a Phase 2. So
you’re getting a commitment. So long as you meet your milestones in your project plan
that you put together, you are getting a commitment for Phase 1 funding as well as the Phase 2
funding. Not all Institutes have a fast-track program, so it’s good to check and see who
you are applying to. This only applies to the SBIR part of the program, not STTR. The other program that we fund is the direct
to Phase 2. This would be a situation where you have enough data and information that
you would have gotten in a Phase 1 grant. And you have all that information, you would’ve
completed those studies under non-SBIR/STTR funds. What it allows you to do is to skip
that Phase 1 and go directly to the Phase 2, and that’s where the name is derived. It
allows you to go directly to the Phase 2. That is a special solicitation that’s listed
here, that’s PAR-14-088 and PAR-15-288. Be aware that not all institutes participate
in the program, so again depending on what your project looks like and the area, it’s
best to always check with that respective Institute or Center to get a sense of whether
they would participate in the program, and of course in the funding announcement you
would be able to see that as well too. Regarding what the definition of what a woman-owned
small businesses is. It’s a firm that must be at least 51 percent owned and controlled
by one or more women. It’s primarily managed by one or more women who must be U.S. citizens.
The firm must be small in its primary industry in accordance to SBA’s size standards, so
you can also go to the SBA website to get some information on this. But for NIH purposes,
the small business concern that is woman-owned needs to self-certify this on the SF 424 form
for your application. Who is eligible — what is the eligibility
for the SBIR funding? It’s criteria for applying for an SBIR is that U.S. businesses
with 500 or fewer employees, the PI’s primary employment must be with the small business
concern at the time of the award and during the duration of the project. More than 50
percent must be U.S.-owned by individuals or independently operated, and a new change
in the program that happened a few years ago was allowing some of the company to be owned
or backed by venture capital funding or private equity firms and hedge firms. That is a change
for the program in terms of eligibility. For STTR it’s slightly different. You have
to have an established cooperative research and development effort between the small business
as well as a research institution. Forty percent of the work can be done by the small business
concern — a minimum of 40 percent, excuse me — and a minimum of 30 percent needs to
be done by the U.S. college, university, or research institution. There needs to be a
formalized intellectual property agreement between the university and the small business
concerns in the event this would come into play when the university is allowing the small
business to use the technology they have, either through a license or some option agreement,
but if that is the intent to use some proprietary technology that the university has funded
and has owned, then there must be this formalized intellectual property agreement. For NIH purposes,
we don’t need to see the agreement, we just need to know that it exists and you have the
freedom to operate to use the technology. The primary employment of the principal investigator
can be either with the small business concerns or the research institution. Key differences between SBIR and STTR. SBIR
permits research institution partners; you can be co-PI on a particular grant. The small
business concern may outsource up to approximately 33 percent of the Phase 1 activities and about
50 percent of the Phase 2 activities. STTR requires that you have a research institution
partner such as a university or college in a minimum of 40 percent of the work. It should
be conducted by the small business concern and a minimum of 30 percent should be conducted
by the nonprofit research institution. In both instances, the awards are always made
to the small business concern. Again — we wanted to touch on this — what
is the socially and economically disadvantaged business? The firm must be 51 percent owned
and controlled by one or more disadvantaged persons. The disadvantaged person or persons
must be socially disadvantaged and economically disadvantaged. The firm must be small according
to SBA size standards, and again, you would need to self-certify this at the time of registering
your business in one of the systems that NIH uses, the system of award management, the
SAM system. I’m going to briefly tell you a little bit
about some funding opportunities and topics of interest that some of our participants
of this webinar today that NHLBI and NCI are funding. I mentioned this previously that
the majority of the grant applications that NIH receives as well as our sister agency
the CDC and the SBA. Received this through this Omnibus Solicitation that comes out once
a year and gets updated once a year. These are the two current versions that are here,
the PA-15-269 and PA-15-270. This is a very comprehensive document that lists every topic
of interest across the NIH. This program description document and research topic document that
is part of that FOA is really, I think, the key thing to read and understand and familiarize
yourself because many of the grant’s budget guidelines are listed in that document as
well as the topics that each one of the Institutes here at NIH fund. The applications are due
January 5, April 5, and September 5 of every year. I’m not going to go through these in
great detail. I understand that we will be making this presentation available to everyone.
I’m going to speak specifically about NCATS topics of interest. We have a large focus
on drug discovery and development tools. Here is a small sampling of what we are looking
for, the types of topics. I always encourage our folks that come to us to have a discussion
with me or one of my colleagues to make sure that what you are proposing really does fit
within the NCATS mission. I would venture to say that the other participants in NHLBI
and NCI also like to talk to grantees prior to submission to make sure that their topics
also fall within their interests and priorities. For NCATS, we also have some interest in diagnostics
and devices; while not as rich as some of the other Institutes here at NIH, we do look
at them. We also have a strong focus around bioinformatics and information technology
tools, tools that allow for a lot of sharing of research information, a clinical research
management tool as well, that aid in patient recruitment, IRB management, and platforms
that allow for registries and natural history studies. If you go to our website, you really
would get a great idea of what we’re looking for. We also do fund special topics. I talked
about these early in the presentation, about focused topics that come under specific grant
solicitations. We have one that is looking for platform delivery technologies for nucleic
acid therapeutics. We’re also participating with other organizations and institutes here
at NIH on bioreactors for reparative medicine and development of appropriate pediatric formulations
in drugs. Here is a sampling of NHLBI topics of interest.
You can see here they have more of this heart/lung/blood focus. You can go to their website to learn
more about what exactly they are funding. And of course talking to their folks in the
SBIR program office. And NCI’s portfolio areas are covered here as you can see, much
more focus on oncology, therapeutics, devices, imaging, and also digital health. Again, the
best advice I can give is to talk to the respective Institute that you intend to
apply to. Let’s talk really briefly about what the review
criteria are for SBIR/STTR grants, what comprises your overall impact score. So there is review
criteria around the significance of what you’re proposing. What the real problem that you’re
trying to solve as well as the commercial potential of what you are proposing is going
to fix this problem. Who your investigative team is. Do you have the right expertise?
Are they known out in the field? Have you partnered with the right people to bring this
technology to commercialization? Also the innovation, making sure it’s a brand-new space
that you’re proposing, or is it an improvement upon something or a current standard of care
that currently exists? What your approach is around the research design and the feasibility
of what your approach is. And also what your facilities and resources that you’re going
to be using to get the work done. Additional review criteria, though it’s not scored
individually, does get discussed in review, is the protection of human subjects issue;
inclusion of women, minorities, and children in the event you are doing some kind of clinical
study; vertebrate animals; and of course use of any biohazard materials is also discussed
in review. These are the deadlines for most of these
applications that come in for the Omnibus as well as some other specific funding announcements
that NIH has. For instance, if you were to submit, our upcoming deadline is April 5.
If you submit on April 5, you can expect the scientific peer review to happen between the
June and July time period. These would go to December — excuse me, August — or September
Council for review, and the earliest award date could happen anywhere between — I would
say — between September and December. This is all dependent on that specific Institute,
how they manage their program. Again, another good question to ask your program officer.
I don’t think the SBIR program is a good program if you need funding immediately because of
the timelines associated with it. It’s best to have that discussion with your specific
program officer to learn how that particular Institute would go about — what the timelines
for funding are — but we’re not talking about a couple of months here. It’s more time
between the time you submit a grant application to the time that it gets awarded. Here are some tips and tools for successful
applications. Please review carefully the funding opportunity announcement. Understand
what the eligibility are for each one of these. There might be some specific focus that they
want you to pay attention in your application. Again, I know here at NCATS we encourage applicants
to contact us prior to submitting to us, just to make sure that you are submitting your
application to the right place, that we are the best fit for that. Again, I think the
other folks participating on this webinar representing NCI and NHLBI would also advise
you to do the same thing. If you go to this link here, you could get an idea — you can
get the contacts for all the folks that are managing the program here across the NIH.
My other piece of advice is to register early for the SBIR and STTR electronics submission
process. There are four or five different systems that you need to register for. These
take time. Some of them can take up to four weeks to completely register in, so allow
yourself enough time to make that happen because it’s so disappointing when I hear a grantee
tell me that they don’t have the registration but the grant application got rejected because
of these registrations not being completely done. Give yourself enough time to submit
a good application. And also there’s a new service that the NIH has, which is called
NIH Assist, which is to streamline the application process. And, for instance, it delegates application
preparation responsibility to multiple users. If you have multiple users within your company,
this is the way to do that. It runs validations on federal-wide and agency business rules.
It’s a new service, and you can register for that when you submit your application. All
of these applications must be submitted electronically. When I talk about these five registrations,
here they are. Again allow yourself plenty of time to get these done so that you can
submit your application and not have these things hang you up or cause an error in your
submission. I think these are a few of the common application
problems that we hear from review. Reviewers may think that what you are proposing has
no significance; it’s not a convincing case for commercial potential or societal impact
for what you’re trying to solve; inadequately defined tests of the feasibility of whatever
you are proposing in the application; lack of innovation. Also, maybe a very unfocused
research plan or one that is so broad in scope that your budget — that’s another thing
too, you want your application research plan to match the budget that you are proposing.
Proposing a lot of things that a budget can’t cover — that’s not going to do well in
review. Also the lack of experience with essential
methodologies in terms of what you are proposing, being unfamiliar with relevant published work
in that particular space that you are proposing. As I mentioned earlier, unrealistic large
amounts of work that you are proposing to do in the grant and that just cannot be accomplished
with the budget that’s being proposed. So important facts to remember, eligibility is
determined at the time of the award, not at the time of submission of the grant. The PI
is not required to have a Ph.D. or M.D.; however, if you intend on doing clinical work under
your SBIR or STTR, you’ve got to have the right personnel. We want to make sure that
you have assembled the right team to move the project forward. Also, the PI is required
to have expertise to oversee the project scientifically and technically. Applications can be submitted
to different funding agencies for similar work to support different aims and objectives.
However, there cannot be overlap. Eventually that will be sorted out. We do eventually
catch that. Sometimes we see duplication between funding agencies. Awards may not be accepted
from different agencies for duplicate projects. I just said that. Very quickly I’m going to talk about these
two small business resources here that NCATS funds. The first one is BrIDGs — this is
not an SBIR/STTR program — it’s called BrIDGs, and it’s a collaboration between
our intramural lab here and small businesses in academics as well, and you enter your project
when you have a clinical candidate identified; any disease is eligible. The folks at BrIDGs
do a gap analysis to find out what key studies need to be done in order to get you to exit
at or before an IND. It’s a milestone-driven program, and we accept all sorts of therapeutic
modalities under this specific program: small molecules, peptides, gene therapy, antibody,
you name it. Eligible applicants are academics here in the U.S., as well as SBIR eligible
businesses. The other de-risking program that we have is TRND (Therapeutics for Rare and
Neglected Diseases). It runs very similar to the BrIDGs program except the focus here
has to be on rare and neglected diseases as identified and meet the SBA or WHO criteria.
Again, milestone driven. We can take projects past the IND stage up into — the maximum
we would ever take anything is up to a Phase 2A, but again that’s very dependent on each
program that’s brought to us and what work needs to be done, and again a broad range
of therapeutic modalities that are accepted into the program, and our aim is to de-risk
the technology so that the small business or the academic can develop a strategic partnership,
license the technology, or whatever it is that they need to do to get it to the next
stage for commercialization. This is open to academics, nonprofit, government labs,
small businesses; in fact, 50 percent of our portfolio is small businesses. I’m going to
give control to — Chris Sasiela: Hi, Lili, thanks. This is Chris
Sasiela from the NHLBI, or the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. I work in the Office
of Translational Alliances and Coordination, so this is the office at NHLBI that has essential
teams to help our small-business applicants get connected to the Institute and learn about
our funding and non-funding opportunities. What I’m going to start with, since Lili just
did a great job talking about the SBIR program, I’m going to talk about general programs
that are not necessarily SBIR focused. The first of those is going to be talking about
NIH’s flagship early-stage innovator support program, the NIH Centers for Accelerated Innovations,
and the Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hubs. These programs provide proof of concept
funding for innovations that are beyond the hypothesis-driven research that normally occurs
in academic institutions but that really aren’t quite yet ready to attract investments or
score well in a small-business study section. Each center or hub is a partnership of one
or more research institutions with private partners who have biomedical expertise and
federal partners who have a role in the U.S. development of biomedical technologies. The
partners are all listed here on this slide. Two programs are really quite similar with
the exception of their mission space. The Center’s program was started in 2013 by
the NHLBI and has been joined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Innovations that
are fostered by the Center’s program fall within the mission of these two Institutes.
However, the REACH program is funded essentially by NIH and is therefore open to all biomedical
technology in any field. So how do the Centers and Hubs work? Well,
what happens is that the member institutions solicit technologies from investigators within
their networks. Then they evaluate project feasibility using internal, external, and
federal review feedback cycles. Once a project is selected, both the project
and the team are enabled in the development of the technology by accessed funding, education,
project management, and technology development expertise and experience. And all that helps
the innovators understand how to set and reach milestones and develop a product development
plan. Projects may remain in either the Centers or Hub program for between six to 24 months
depending on the technology and the amount of work needed. Upon exit, it’s expected
that they’re going to have a clear value proposition that they can explain: a product
development plan that includes regulatory reimbursement and intellectual property consideration
and that, therefore, they’re going to be well-positioned to attract additional support,
whether from a private investor, grantee agency, or by licensing the technology to a strategic
partner. Although we at NIH are very excited about the NCAI and REACH programs, the resources
that they provide are really available only to investigators at one of the funded or partner
institutions. So for investigators in the NHLBI mission space, which covers heart, lung,
blood, and sleep disorders and diseases, we have a number of IND enabling programs. For
NHLBI, these programs are the Gene Therapy Resource Program, the Production Assistance
for Cellular Therapies program, and Science Moving towArds Research Translation and Therapy,
which we cobbled into SMARTT as an acronym. These programs can provide eligible investigators
with the manufacture of materials, pre-clinical testing, regulatory support for the conduct
of a pre-IND meeting or an IND filing, things of that nature. We also have a program called
BioLINCC, which is the Clinical Specimen and Data Repository, from which innovators can
request resources, either data or specimens or both, to support the development of diagnostics
for some of NHLBI’s unique clinical population. All four of these resources are available
to our community regardless of their current or prior NHLBI funding and also free of charge
to the investigators. We also know that sometimes innovators just have a question, and it’s
not about the science, they’re just looking for someone who is knowledgeable and can give
them a response that won’t cost them an arm and a leg. In NHLBI’s Office of Translational
Alliances and Coordination, we hope to fill those non-science knowledge gaps that our
biomedical innovators face. We have four experienced professionals. I
am a regulatory strategist that started my career at SBA. I have worked for a contracting
company for a number of years leading their Regulatory Affairs and Services team, and
now I’ve been with NIH for four years. My colleague Gary Robinson has worked in a number
of startup companies and has received an SBIR award from NIH and has a lot of experience
talking with investors and strategic partners to help build and sell that value proposition.
Speaking of investors, Steve Flaim, who is our investor in residence, has worked at major
pharma companies in delivering new technologies to the market. He started several small companies
as a serial entrepreneur and he’s also currently an angel investor. He’s the former president
of Tech Coast Angels, the largest angel group in the southern California region. He is currently
on the board of the American Capital Association, so he’s very connected with the investment
community and knows what to look for. He works with companies to help them develop a strong
pitch for their value proposition. If you are going to pitch your technology to a company,
however, rather than to individual investors, you probably want to reach out to Ethel Rubin,
our entrepreneur in residence. She has started multiple companies, she’s been a scout for
a major medical device company, and has a great way of targeting in on the key questions
that a strategic partner is going to want you to address in your presentation. To request
time with any of us, please visit the link at the bottom of this slide. In my office, we’ve noticed that we tend
to get some of the same basic questions from multiple applicants over time. So to address
this specific set of knowledge gaps, we’ve developed a series of webinars that we call
the NHLBI Small Biz Hangouts. These are hour-long webinars that target in on specific issues,
such as how to develop a target product profile or write a commercialization plan, or understand
the different types of intellectual property that you can wrap around your technology.
Each hangout is recorded, captioned, and posted on the playlist listed up here at the top
of the slide on the NHLBI YouTube channel. Here’s a list of all of the events we’ve
presented thus far. If you want to find out about upcoming events, such as the one that
will be delivered next Tuesday on integrating your regulatory and research plans, please
sign up for my office’s Gmail updates at the link shown on this slide. Of course, all
of these in-kind and knowledge resources I have just talked about are really great, but
if you are a small business, what you really need is money to get the work done. NHLBI
is the third-largest Institute at the NIH. And we have an annual budget of $3.1 billion.
Some of that money goes to support programs such as the NCAI program that I have mentioned
or GTRP or PACT, SMARTT, or BioLINCC, but $92 million of that is dedicated just to support
small business grants and contracts. In addition to the complete description of Phase 1, Phase
2, Fast-Track, Direct to Phase 2 programs that Lili just described, NHLBI supports a
Phase 2B program. This is a continuing award for someone who has successfully completed
a Phase 2 project. We don’t participate in the NIH parent announcement,
but we have one that we’ve developed just for ourselves for our Institute. It’s actually
composed of two announcements: one for technologies that are targeting a rare disease or a pediatric
indication, and we call that our small-market award. And the second, for technologies that
address more traditional indication with larger markets, and we call that our bridge award.
In both cases, the technology must require SBA clearance or approval for market entry
in the U.S. The total award amount may not exceed $3 million over three years, and we
require that you submit a fundraising plan and that is actually part of the evaluation
criteria for your award. For the small-market program, the fundraising plan should indicate
that you’re going to be able to raise at least an additional one third of the requested
funding. So if you’re asking for $3 million, you can submit a plan that has at least $1
million planned fundraising. And that needs to be from non-federal sources. For the bridge
award, our expectation is that applicants should be able to raise at least a full match
for the requested funding, again, from non-federal sources. At NIH, we often get asked, “What
are you interested in funding?” The real answer that we tell is we’re interested
in funding whatever you’re passionate about. But we also have some more directed programs
where we think maybe there’s not enough independent interest or we have a particular mission focus
for our Institute. So on this slide, as well as in the topics that Lili posted earlier,
I’ve listed just a couple of examples of how we communicate what we’re interested in.
We may put out specific requests for applications in funding opportunities, and we post topics
of special interest on our website, and once a year we do have contract solicitations if
there is a very specific need that we have identified that we feel we can stimulate through
the SBIR mechanism. But we know we’re not going to be able to fund your entire technology
development effort by NIH dollars. So one of the things we do is we explore ways to
help our awardees be successful after their NHLBI funding has run out. Towards that end,
NHLBI has executed a series of semi-annual innovation conferences across the U.S., pulling
together investors and strategic partners who are active investors and partners in the
heart, lung, blood, and sleep biomedical product development arenas. We invite our current
and recent portfolio companies to present either orally or with a poster at these events.
This gives them the opportunity to interact with potential future funders, collaborators,
or partners. This map shows a couple of the places that we have been, and we expect to
be coming up to New York this fall in affiliation with some other conferences that are going
on. Please sign up for our listserv to find out more about that. But we know that we can’t
possibly bring everyone into one room at one time and facilitate all of the connections
that might be needed. So we are also, in collaboration with our sister Institutes and Centers here
at the NIH, developing relationships with a number of investor professionals, as indicated
on this slide, to allow some of our companies to present their technologies in front of
these wider audiences. We hope that the connections that our companies make at these events will
lead to relationships that will drive their technologies toward the U.S. health care market.
At this point, I’m going to pass the presentation over to Korey Hallett, who will tell you about
the NCI resources and programs. Korey Hallett: Thank you. Hi, everyone. In
the interest of time, I’m probably going to cut this fairly short, but the slides should
be available to you afterwards. I am Korey Hallett, I’m at the National Cancer Institute,
and today I’m just going to briefly mention some of the technology assistance and training
programs open at SBIR and STTR-funded small businesses at NIH, and also introduce some
NCI program specifics. I want to introduce the NCI SBIR Development Center. We are a
Development Center that has two teams that are separated on technology area, each team
consisting of about five program directors. These program directors have a portfolio that
consists only of small businesses. They do not have academic grants on their portfolio.
In our Development Center, we strictly manage the SBIR and STTR programs for NCI, and we
try to support the small businesses in our program and also conduct outreach and applicant
support for people who are interested in applying to the program. This was touched on by both Lili and Chris:
SBIR grants versus contracts, and I just want to mention there are some key differences.
NCI funds quite a few R&D contracts as opposed to grants. You can see on the bottom of this
slide, the Development Center was formed in 2007, and since that time we’ve really increased
our usage of R&D contracts as opposed to grants. We hover now right around 30 percent of our
budget goes to R&D contracts and that is around $30-$40 million annually. The key differences
between grants and contracts is partially that the R&D contracts are narrowly defined
by the NIH. So as opposed to the Omnibus Solicitation, this is investigator initiated and you can
come in with your own idea. We define the topic. We at NCI try to have a broad range
of topics that they can be very narrowly defined, such as continued diagnostics for immunotherapy
is a topic we solicited in the past, as well as radiation mitigators and sensitizers for
radiation therapy, things of that nature. Those are announced only once per year in
August and the receipt day is usually in October. There’s a lot of reporting associated with
R&D contracts. So look for that program announcement if you think it’s something that you’re interested
in. I want to highlight a few of our participants
in the program, just to give you a sense for who uses the program and why they’ve chosen
to use it. Lori Hazlehurst is an NCI awardee, and she’s a cofounder of Modulation Therapeutics.
Modulation focuses on novel mechanisms to target cell adhesion molecules that are critical
for mediated drug resistance. Lori is a professor at West Virginia University. Her laboratory
was making advances that she really wanted to help transition into commercial and clinical
availability, and that was really difficult to do with the RO1 funding mechanism, and
so Lori spun out a company and pursued SBIR and STTR funding through NCI. Aruna Gambhir is another one of the awardees.
Aruna has a background in high-tech industry; she worked in large industry and also in some
small startups. She saw a need in the immunotherapy community for tools to assess early responses
to immunotherapy. Her and her cofounder started CellSight Technologies. They started it and
sought Phase 1 funding for the feasibility studies and Phase 2 funding for further development.
This slide is probably one of the most important slides in my talk. We heard this from Heather
initially in the introduction, that women sometimes have a lower resubmission rate than
their male counterparts. Mary Potasek, who cofounded Simphotek, which is a company that
sells software to simulate laser interactions with nonlinear or live material. So when talking
with Mary, she really highlighted the need to be prepared to resubmit, by saying the
reviewers are not concerned about feelings but take the criticism seriously, correct
the things that need correcting, and be prepared to resubmit. Don’t give up because of a depressing
review. This is really critical. The FY 14 success rate for Phase 1 grants in NCI SBIR
programs was 14 percent. That includes first-time submissions and it includes resubmissions.
And the first-time submissions generally can fall well below 10 percent. So be prepared
the first time you submit, be prepared to get the reviewer comments, contact your program
officer, that’s what we’re here to talk to you about. Contact your program office, talk
about the review. Don’t be put off by the fact that you need to resubmit your application. Once funded and brought into the NIH pipeline,
SBIR/STTR programs — the NIH offers more than money, and Chris talked a lot about this
in the NHLBI portion. So the NIH offers technical assistance. Two programs that are offered
at the NIH levels so they are open to SBIR awardees from all Institutes and Centers is
Niche and CAP. Niche is market research information to help you develop a commercialization plan
that will be required for a Phase 2 application, so this is for Phase 1 applicants. And CAP
is really individualized commercialization help offered to Phase 2 awardees. Another training program that we have here
at NIH that’s relatively new is I-Corps. It’s an entrepreneurial immersion course.
It’s currently available only to Phase 1 awardees. We had a pilot cohort in 2014 and we’ve
since picked it up, our second cohort is getting ready to start in March. And the approach
here is really just multi-stakeholder engagement. We use the same hypothesis/experiment/design/test
cycle that all scientists are used to, but it forces you to get out of the building and
talk to customers and talk to potential stakeholders. Our pilot cohort of 19 teams conducted over
2100 interviews as part of their 10-week course, and so this is a pretty intense course, but
people report a lot of knowledge gained in key areas for commercialization. And I’m
not going to go through this slide because I think we’re just about out of time. But
just medical reimbursement, regulatory strategy, pre-clinical development, clinical trials,
and intellectual property are all areas where our pilot cohort reported gaining knowledge.
Finally, I want to introduce our NCI SBIR investor forum. Chris talked about partnering
with various showcases and meetings around the country and NCI is part of that. We also
host our own investor forum where we select companies out of our portfolio, we bring together
a select group of investors and strategic partners that are interested in funding or
partnering with cancer technologies. We review your investment pitch and we bring you together
with those investors and strategic partners, hoping to facilitate relationships that are
going to move your technology off of federal funds because we’re not going to most likely
take you all the way to commercialization but move you to funding sources that can help
you take your technology all the way to commercialization. Finally, a workshop NCI offers that’s restricted
to NCI portfolio companies is the Federal Resources to Accelerate Commercialization.
We bring together experts from SBA, from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, USPTO,
and also we set up one-on-ones with your program director, and we have a two-day event that
we host here at our NCI facility in Maryland. We’re getting ready to have another event
in May 2016. And I flew through my talk to try to make up some time, but here is our
website, where you can find out more information, anything I talked about, also specific funding
opportunities, I didn’t talk about any of our technology-specific grant opportunities.
You can also find out more about I-Corps, our investor events, and importantly, there
is contact information on our website for any of the program staff in the SBIR Development
Center. So with that, I’m going to send it back to Monique. Monique LaRocque: Hello, everyone. We have
been gathering your questions and the panelists have agreed to stay on a bit longer to get
through some of these questions. Please do stay on if you’d like, and if not, please
also remember to fill out the evaluation form. Our first question goes to Lili: “Is there
a designation, and is it ever used in criteria for grant evaluations or awards?” Lili Portilla: The designation is primarily
used for tracking purposes for the NIH, and the SBIR/STTR awards are reviewed for scientific
merit, so the designation doesn’t come into the review piece of it. Monique LaRocque: “How does one obtain the
designation?” I will send that to you, NHLBI. Chris Sasiela: The designation is a self-designation
process, and it is something that you submit to the Small Business Administration at the
time that you register your business with the SBA. Monique LaRocque: OK. “What are the specific
criteria for feasibility for Phase 1?” Chris Sasiela: [indiscernible] Anyone else
want to take it? Lili Portilla: No, Chris, go ahead. Chris Sasiela: OK. So there is no specific
definition that we’re going to use for feasibility, just you need to determine what is that killer
experiment that’s going to help you decide a go/no go stage gate to continue the development
of your technology. So if you are developing a new therapeutic modality and you have, let’s
say, five to 15 compounds that you’ve developed through medicinal chemistry in your lab, and
you want to run a small animal study or a more detailed set of methodical in vitro tests,
then that might be a feasibility study to narrow down your leads to one compound to
continue to develop. There are many other examples; it’s completely dependent upon
the technology. Korey Hallett: Can I add something? At NCI,
you can send your specific aims if you have questions about whether you’re proposing
the right types of experiments or not, you can send your specific aim either to one of
the program directors listed on our website or to our main inbox, and someone can look
at them. We ask that you send them at least a month ahead of time, otherwise we don’t
guarantee a response. But I believe other Institutes also do this, and I know Lili stressed
the importance of contacting the program early and that’s the exact type of feedback you
can get from the program. Lili Portilla: Yes, that’s correct, and
we do the same thing here at NCATS. Chris Sasiela: As do we at NHLBI. Monique LaRocque: This question is for NCI:
“Can you please discuss navigating conflicts of interest and commitment for faculty trying
to start a small business? If there is an academic who also has a company, how can they
navigate that and apply to the programs?” Korey Hallett: I’m not 100 percent sure
that I understand the question, but the STTR program is specifically designed for faculty
that are interested in spinning out companies, and as Lily talked about in her talk, the
requirement there — there’s no employment requirement for the PI on that project. They
have to dedicate 10 percent of their time, but they can maintain employment with their
institution. The small business does need someone that is employed by the small business
that’s going to carry out the work, so frequently what we see in STTR is that maybe a postdoc
or scientists in the lab will leave the academic setting and work at the company. So hopefully
I’ve answered the question, I’m not 100 percent sure that that’s what they’ve asked. Lili Portilla: Korey, this is Lili, I’m just
going to add that it’s always best to check with your institution about their specific
policies around investigators getting involved with SBIR companies, whether it means spinning
out versus participating as a co-PI because each institution does have their own policies
on this. Korey Hallett: That’s a great point. Monique LaRocque: OK, there is a series of
questions around whether a small business needs to have a physical address — sometimes
startups are starting out of someone’s home — and also whether they need to have a physical
wet bench space for the small business. Korey Hallett: Go ahead, Lili. Lili Portilla: I was just going to say that,
you know, I think that we would want to see a place of business, recognizing that there
are some projects that, you know, if you’re doing software development that you don’t
need like a wet lab space for that. But I think, at least from NCATS’ perspective,
we would want to make sure that, you know, that it is very much of a, that there is a
business around whatever it is you’re proposing. But do you need wet lab space for everything,
no, but then remember that you have all these limitations around how much you can outsource
with these grants as well, too, so you need to keep that in mind. Korey, do you want to
add anything else? Korey Hallett: Yeah, one thing we see somewhat
frequently at NCI is if someone, so remember that you need space once the award is granted.
You don’t necessarily need space for the application process, and one thing we see frequently at
NCI is that people will have a lease from an incubator that basically — or a promise
letter from an incubator — saying if the award is funded, then we will provide space
and these are the facilities that will, and the equipment that is also included in that
space. So if you’re very, very early and you’re concerned about, you know, a lease for the
application process, just know that there is that mechanism, and you should contact
the program before you apply. Monique LaRocque: This question is for NHLBI:
“How are the review panels put together in terms of reviewing applications?” And
a second part to that question: “How can we get more industry and women-owned reviewers?
Is there a process to make those suggestions?” Chris Sasiela: So, to find out more about
how the review process works, I want to encourage our audience to go onto the Center for Scientific
Review’s website. They have a number of excellent videos that talk about how the process
works. Most of the applications that come into the NIH are reviewed at the Center for
Scientific Review, although occasionally an institute puts out a solicitation that’s
very specific to them, they make choose to perform that review in-house, and the way
that they would do that is they would identify appropriately knowledgeable external parties
and invite them to participate in the review. In terms of increasing the number of women
reviewers and socially disadvantaged or economically disadvantaged reviewers that participate,
you can certainly either reach out to the Center for Scientific Review, if you feel
like you are qualified to be a reviewer, and share with them your resume and what field
you’d be qualified for, or talk to a program official. We can often provide your contact
information and suggestions about the types of panels that you would be useful, you know,
most appropriate to sit in on, to our scientific review official colleagues, whether they’re
within our institutes or at the Center for Scientific Review. Lili Portilla: And Chris, this is Lili, I
actually think that there’s a tab on the Center for Scientific Review website that says “How
to Become a Reviewer” that you can go to to do all this as well, too. Monique LaRocque: We’ll take three more
questions before we wrap up: “If you’re a minority-owned business with a woman owner,
can you select both minority- and woman-owned on the SBIR application, or do you have to
select one?” I’m going to send that to NCI. Korey Hallett: I believe you can select both
as long as, you know, both are cleared through SBA. Monique LaRocque: OK. This question is for
Lili: “If there is an animal facility located outside the country through paid services,
am I still eligible for the SBIR application?” Lili Portilla: Monique, you said out of the
country, is that what you said? Monique LaRocque: That’s right, yes, out
of country. Lili Portilla: Right, right, that’s a great
question. You know, there would have to be a very compelling scientific reason as to
why using an animal facility outside of the U.S., you know, perhaps they have a very unique
animal model or something very unique there. There has to be — foreign components in
SBIRs are looked at very, very closely because again, you know, the focus of this program
is around development of small businesses in the U.S. If you do collaborate with a foreign
component or collaborator, there has to be a compelling reason. Maybe that collaborator
has access to rare disease patients that, you know, in a particular part of the world.
So that’s going to get looked at very carefully. If it’s just because, you know, you like working
with collaborator XYZ, that might be a really hard thing for us to fund because again, there
has to be very much of a compelling reason why to fund a foreign collaborator or site
under an SBIR or STTR. Monique LaRocque: Last question is for NHLBI:
“Are the NHLBI advisory experts available for free consulting?” Chris Sasiela: As long as your question or
your technology is in, within the NHLBI mission space, which is cardiovascular, pulmonary,
hematologic and sleep disorders and diseases, then yes, they are free of charge, and we
are available. You know, all you need to do is reach out to us, submit a request through
the Web form, the link that I had on my slide deck. Monique LaRocque: Last question is for Lili:
“How can we get in touch with our program managers? What’s the best way to do that?” Lili Portilla: So, you can, I think I gave
a link to the program officers in the respective institutes, and they would be able to get
you to the right people. Also, if you’re looking at a specific funding announcement, look at
the contacts on that funding announcement because usually there’s a scientific point
of contact as well as a grants management point of contact for specific funding announcements
as well. Chris Sasiela: Also, Lili, I just want to
make our audience aware, if you’ve submitted an application, then you will have a summary
statement. If you go into your eRA Commons account, on that summary statement, you will
see the name of a specific program official. So, if you received a summary statement with
or without a fundable range score, you can reach out to that specific person and talk
to them about your technology. Lili Portilla: Thanks, Chris. Monique LaRocque: Thank you to everyone for
joining this webinar. There are program contacts that we have listed there. Please do stay
on and fill out the evaluation. We would very much appreciate your feedback. Thank you again.

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