Policies Necessary for Supporting Small Biotech Businesses

Emerging biotech companies with promising scientific innovation need a policy environment that will enable them to continue critical research and development of medical advancements and breakthroughs.

The importance of advancing science has never been more important than it is right now as companies are struggling to recover from the economic crisis, and accelerate growth, hiring and research.

Supporting American biotechnology innovation is critical for speeding up development of medical discoveries and cures that otherwise may be delayed or not possible.

Below are two policy priorities that BIO feels would provide much-needed support to emerging biotech companies: 
SBIR Reauthorization: Small Business Innovation Research grants provide critical funding for the development of innovative medical therapies for Cancer, Diabetes and HIV. BIO strongly supports passage of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S. 493).

This measure will allow small companies that receive the majority of their financing from venture capital to once again be eligible to compete for SBIR grants.  SBIR should be an aggressively competitive program that fulfills federal research and development goals of bringing breakthrough public health discoveries to the public.

Despite its noble past, the ability of the SBIR program to provide critical funding for medical research projects will remain hampered unless SBIR reauthorization updates the program to address the current realities facing small, innovative American companies.

The role of the SBIR program in bringing breakthrough therapies to the American people is a matter of record. There are 252 FDA approved biologics that have been developed by 163 companies. Thirty-two percent of those companies have received at least one SBIR/STTR award.

In the last five months, at least 25 U.S. public biotech companies have either placed drug development programs on hold or cut programs all together. These programs include promising therapies for HIV, cervical cancer, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes.

Therapeutic Discovery Project: The 2010 Therapeutic Discovery Project (TDP) provided $1 billion in support to nearly 3,000 companies across the country.  The TDP came at a critical juncture for patients and for hundreds of our nation’s emerging life sciences companies desperate for capital to fund their critical, and potentially life-saving, research.  It has helped regional companies maintain and grow jobs.  And in a broader sense, programs like the TDP boost the US’s ability to maintain our global leadership in biotech. 

Leaders of American biotech companies say that the TDP will help them sustain or create high quality jobs by providing capital assistance that supports their work and their work force.

As evidence of the project’s popularity suggests, Congress should consider extending the project for its second year and beyond in order to support American innovation and speed the development of life-saving cures.