Next Phase Interview: NCI Program Director Todd Haim Explains How RESI Boston Became A Showcase For NIH SBIR Grantees

24 Aug

For the third year in a row, the NIH has sponsored a group of grantees to be part of the RESI Boston Innovation Challenge. This week, Dennis Ford(DF) interviews Program Director Todd Haim(TH) to explore how this relationship benefits the NIH’s grantees, and how RESI stands out as a venue for these companies to present.

Dennis Ford
Founder & CEO, Life Science Nation; Creator of RESI Conference Series

Todd Haim
SBIR Program Director, National Cancer Institute

 

 

 

 

 

 

DF: What is the basic reason NIH is showcasing technology at RESI?

TH: The NIH is supporting the SBIR awardees to showcase their own technologies, and we do this at a variety of industry conferences. And the real goal from the NIH´s perspective is that we realize that we cannot support these companies forever; and that each individual company, in order to reach the patient and the market, will need a lot more funding than can be provided just through SBIR. They will need downstream partners and funders, and it is in our interest to help as much as we can to facilitate those partnerships.  RESI along with other early stage investor conferences provides a forum for our portfolio companies to interact with these parties. The conference hosts a unique set of investors and partners that are a good match for our Investor Initiatives program. This is the third year that we will be sending our companies to RESI.

DF: How many NIH-funded companies apply for the RESI Innovation Challenge and how many are selected as finalists?

TH: Over the past 3 years, over 150 companies have applied, and 60 of those have been featured as finalists. 20 at each conference.

DF: What are some key differences you see in the RESI conference compared to other conferences you attend?

TH: I would say two things stand out about RESI. One is the inclusion of Family Offices and groups that you don´t see at many other industry forums and showcases. The other benefit of RESI is the broad base in terms of technology types. Many of the other conferences we have participated in are really focused on one technology area, whether it be devices or therapeutics. RESI has individual tracks that represent devices or that represent therapeutics, which really allows us to present a greater variety of our companies there, and I think that broad focus is very helpful at this early stage.

DF: Is this type of showcasing of NIH-funded technology going to continue?

TH: We continually evaluate the outcomes of our companies’ participation in conferences like RESI to ensure the value of such events to our portfolio companies. We recently found out that CellSight Technologies, one of the companies that attended RESI as part of NCI SBIR’s Investor Initiatives, signed an agreement with Boehringer Ingelheim to partner on a clinical study using CellSight’s technology. We hope that participation in NCI SBIR’s Investor Initiatives will result in additional partnerships and investment for our portfolio companies. Should RESI participation continue to prove effective for NCI SBIR’s portfolio companies and our program continue to have sufficient funding for these efforts, we are likely to continue considering participation in RESI.

DF: Typically, we see for the Innovation Challenge participants up to 50% get funded or get involved in partnerships but we haven’t correlated that to SBIR participants specifically (though I know of around a half dozen off the top of my head that have fared quite well by participating in RESI). 

DF: Tell the readers some great stuff that is happening right now in the NIH funding domain:

TH: Sure. NCI and many of the other Institutes participate in both the Omnibus grant funding opportunity, which is available three times a year and the next receipt date is September 5th. About two thirds, if not more, of the funding for the NIH/SBIR program is actually through the Omnibus solicitation, which is an investigator initiated solicitation. You submit the application and you tell us what you’re working on; then it gets peer reviewed and we consider it from there. Then we have some of the Institutes within the Health and Human Services (HHS) including NCI, using a SBIR Contract Solicitation that goes out once a year to fund high-priority areas for each of those Institutes. The solicitation is now available and applications are due by October 20th. You can find the solicitation on NCI SBIR’s website (https://sbir.cancer.gov), as well as on https://sbir.nih.gov. I would definitely encourage all of the readers to look at both of those funding opportunity announcements with upcoming due dates and consider applying. We are here to work with potential applicants and help them understand how the program works, and how an application can be competitive.  So I encourage you to reach out to our office (ncisbir@mail.nih.gov) or to the SBIR Program Officers and Coordinators across the NIH before you apply. If you would like to speak to a Program Officer before you apply, that is definitely something we can arrange and provide guidance. Come and talk to us, we’re always interested in supporting new companies through the SBIR program and new projects.

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