Friday, November 2, 2012

Novel Funding for Bioscience Companies

By Karlee Stewert, Communications Coordinator at FasterCures 

FasterCures Executive Director Margaret Anderson joined the Mid-Atlantic Bio Conference this fall for a discussion on novel funding sources for bioscience companies, a major concern plaguing the biotech and medical research industries. The panel discussed best practices to attract funding, how to develop important relationships with possible funders, and the opportunities crowdsourcing can bring to a small organization. “The biggest concern plaguing bioscience industry is funding,” moderator Peter Ginsberg, North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s VP for Business and Technology Development, pointed out, “the way a company approaches funding is the key to bringing in resources.”

“Building relationships is an obvious but important move,” Anderson recommended. “Start a conversation with a potential partner about something innovative you can do together.” Fellow panelist, John Hollway, president of Pragmatos Consulting, emphasized Anderson's point and warned that "the time to build a relationship with the federal government isn't when you’re applying, it's before." 

Crowdfunding, rallying support from others who can pool their resources rather than seeking out a major donor, has quickly become one of the most popular methods for small businesses to fund their endeavors. This approach to funding has permeated the biotech industry with organizations like Cloud-Based Quality Assurance for Cancer Treatment and myHealthPal, which use the vast opportunities the Internet provides to build their vision, raising funds and gaining access to their target audience.

Research organizations seeking funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for their projects may unfortunately  be faced with the reality of sequestration of critical capital to create life-saving products and treatments. If sequestration goes into effect in January 2013, NIH will face a drastic funding cut. Anderson stressed the importance of scientists and biotech speaking out and making their stories heard by those in Congress: “I encourage you to understand what this means and make your voice heard. Talk to your members about what they can do and why sequestration matters. Speak to Congress about what it means to be a scientist, and tell them how much of an investment the federal government has made in you.”

To start to compensate for the uncertainty of federal funding, venture philanthropy groups will be looked on even more to step up and provide funding that the medical research community now relies heavily on.

Anderson recommended utilizing your members’ extended networks – both on and offline, ‘friends-of-friends’ connections —  building strong relationships with the funders can mean the difference between struggle and survival for your company.

And because this IS a FasterCures blog, we’d be remiss not to remind you of a great opportunity to find nontraditional allies who could be key to helping you advance your R&D goals – Partnering for Cures. This meeting, to be held November 28-30 in New York City is a unique opportunity for biotechnology companies to network and find true partners. This meeting brings together more than 800 leaders from all sectors of the medical research enterprise, across therapeutic areas. It is focused on solutions and making collaboration happen - and it works because the participants are there to get things done. A special rate is set for start-up and emerging biotech companies.

For more information on unique approaches to funding, check out these resources:

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