Hopes and Cures blog launches with broad support

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The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), along with patient groups, scientists, university researchers, policymakers and others, has launched a new blog, Hopes and Cures (http://www.hopesandcures.org), to focus on restoring the eligibility of small companies for federal grants that support research for life-threatening illnesses. This community-focused blog provides a forum for discussing current legislative initiatives and what a change in the funding rules would mean for the patient community.

There is a broad community of patient advocates, researchers, policy makers and companies who are all passionate about supporting a change in SBIR eligibility to allow companies that receive majority venture capital funding to qualify for these prestigious federal grants

    "There is a broad community of patient advocates, researchers, policy makers and companies who are all passionate about supporting a change in SBIR eligibility to allow companies that receive majority venture capital funding to qualify for these prestigious federal grants," said lead blogger, Cartier Esham, Director of Health and Regulatory Affairs for BIO's Emerging Companies. "It is our hope that this blog can help galvanize these disparate groups to advocate for changes that will benefit patients and the broader public."

The Federal Government helps small businesses through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, by setting aside a specific percentage of all federal research and development money for applicants focusing their work on cutting edge research. However, in 2003, the Small Business Administration (SBA) added another provision, that small businesses not receive more that 51 percent of their funds from venture capital sources. As a result, many companies with promising treatments are no longer eligible for these grants and must seek other sources to fund their research efforts.

"From a patient perspective it does not seem logical, and is in fact scary, that we are eliminating from eligibility research projects that otherwise merit funding, simply because of the financial structure of the company. For people living with Parkinson's and many other diseases that need better treatments and cures, SBIR is an essential program that provides key funding for patient-oriented research. We are fearful that keeping the eligibility ruling as it now stands will prevent promising research from going forward. In fact, who knows what promising therapies are sitting now, unfunded and not moving?" said Amy Rick of the Parkinson's Action Network.

Hopes and Cures will provide a forum for patients and others to discuss federal rules for biotechnology research and how they believe funding could best be used.

About BIO

Founded in 1993, BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

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