Kickstarting Funding and Resources for your SBIR Awardees

By:  Ethel Rubin, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, National Institutes of Health

Editors Note:  ACA has entered into an annual partnership program with NIH, with an aim toward collaboration and getting to know early-stage companies funded through NIH funding programs such as Small Business Innovation Research grants.

Some wonderful new things are happening at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help the companies we have backed make further progress. Our angel investors should be aware of specialized funding and support programs that were reauthorized last year so that your portfolio companies can take a look and see if they qualify.  The three most relevant are the extension of the NIH Entrepreneurs in Residence initiative; SBIR Direct to Phase II grants; and the Commercialization Readiness Pilot Program.

Access Business Experts: NIH Entrepreneurs in Residence

You have been hearing about the new Entrepreneurs in Residence at NIH for a while. In addition to working with our investor community, we are a fantastic resource for working 1:1 with companies to prepare for follow on private financing and helping with strategy, competitive intelligence, comps and deal review, among other things. Check us out at

Congress reauthorized Administrative funds to support and provide resources for SBIR companies like this, among many other resources. NIH will be using these funds to continue to increase outreach to companies across the USA, especially to women-owned and small socially disadvantaged businesses, to support company attendance at industry conferences, and most importantly, prepare select companies for pitching at investor conferences such as the upcoming 2019 ACA Summit. Look out for our 8 companies at the Summit on April 24 and 25 as well as additional NIH-backed companies at BIO in June and the Life Sciences Summit in November. We bring deal flow to your backyard!

Moving Quickly: SBIR Direct to Phase II

Coming back this year is also the SBIR “Direct to Phase II” program. Originally designed as a pilot program, Direct to Phase II enables companies that had already progressed beyond what would be considered “pilot phase” – the kinds of R&D ordinarily undertaken with a Phase 1 SBIR award – to compete for a Phase II award without having had a Phase I. The opportunity to win up to $1.5M in non-dilutive funding from NIH can make a big impact for a company that found its own way to getting through some initial R&D groundwork with other seed money. If you have any portfolio companies that you think qualify, the best point of contact would be the program official in the NIH institute that covers the appropriate therapy or technology area, found here.

On the Horizon: Commercialization Readiness Pilot

The reauthorized Commercialization Readiness Pilot Program (CRP) won’t be accepting applications until later in 2019, but as a high value program that may be incredibly helpful to catapult companies to valuation inflection points, it’s worth keeping on your radar. This program funds companies’ commercial activities not normally allowed in the budgets of a typical phase II SBIR grant. For example, it covers preparation of materials for FDA submission, intellectual property strategy, or a pivotal clinical trial. The last time CRP funding was available was in 2017, when 26 awards were made for up to $3M each over three years for commercially relevant goals. The complete list of previous awardees and what they did with the funding is available here. If you have a company in your portfolio that is working towards similar goals, make sure they keep an eye out for the new CRP funding opportunities and by signing up for the SBIR listserv.