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NHLBI SBIR Phase IIB Bridge Awards to Accelerate the Commercialization of Technologies for Heart, Lung, Blood, and Sleep Disorders and Diseases (R44 Clinical Trial Optional)


Since its inception in 1982, the NIH SBIR program has provided the small business community with seed funding to support the development of a broad array of commercial products to detect, diagnose, treat, and prevent disease. It provides an important funding mechanism for bringing new interventions to patients and clinicians. The SBIR program is structured in three phases. The objective in Phase I is to establish the technical merit and feasibility of a proposed research and development (R&D) effort, while in Phase II it is to continue the R&D effort for successful Phase I projects. The expectation is that in Phase III, an SBC will be able to launch a product commercially with non-SBIR funds. However, many projects initiated with SBIR funding require considerable financing beyond the SBIR Phase II award to complete the validation studies required to obtain regulatory approval and launch a product. In particular, the development of therapeutics, medical devices, and combined technologies often requires a number of years and substantial capital investments because of the costs assciated with conducting clinical trials and/or other steps mandated by the Federal regulatory approval process. Thus, despite the extensive R&D performed on such products during Phase II projects, the results are often insufficient to attract the substantial private investment needed for the eventual commercialization of the product. Many small businesses, therefore, become cash-starved before reaching the next critical milestone along the path toward commercialization.? Hence, this FOA is designed to address this funding gap between the end of the SBIR or STTR Phase II award and the point at which non-SBIR financing can be secured for the subsequent stages of product development. A number of public and private organizations have begun to recognize the challenges associated with this funding gap and are taking steps to provide additional resources to advance a greater number of promising early-stage technologies toward commercialization. Importantly, many of these organizations are not only providing financial support but are also establishing programs to provide commercialization guidance. For example, in the area of drug development, a number of major pharmaceutical firms have developed corporate venture funds focused on supporting projects in the preclinical stages of development, and some of these firms have established technology incubators to provide development support, including regulatory guidance. In addition, a growing number of universities are creating venture funds to support innovative technologies developed by their resident investigators, and numerous state-sponsored technology funds have also been created across the U.S. to support start-up companies. Such programs can provide additional financing and commercialization support for SBIR awardees that have received initial seed funding and a rigorous technical evaluation through the NIH peer review process. As such, a major goal of this FOA is to provide a platform to incentivize partnerships between NIH-funded SBIR awardees and a broad range of potential third-party investors. It is anticipated that funding by third-party investors will be predicated on significant due diligence, thus encouraging awardees to formulate credible business plans for product commercialization. In addition, it is expected that third-party investors will maintain an active role in supporting the awardee during the product development phase and during pursuit of follow-on funding for commercialization. Specific Objectives for SBIR Phase IIB Bridge Award Applications A. Independent Third-Party Investor Funds This FOA specifically encourages business relationships between applicant SBCs and third-party investors/strategic partners who can provide financing to help accelerate the commercialization of promising new products whose development was initiated with SBIR or STTR funding. Applicants are expected to leverage their previous SBIR or STTR support, as well as the opportunity to compete for additional NHLBI funding under this FOA, to attract and negotiate third-party financing needed to advance a product or technology toward commercialization. The applicant’s ability to secure independent third-party investor funds that equal or exceed the total amount of the NHLBI funds being requested over the entire Phase IIB Bridge Award project period will help to validate the commercial potential that is essential for the SBIR projects solicited under this FOA. This potential will be strongly considered in review (refer to Section V. Application Review Information) and making funding decisions. If a Phase IIB Bridge Award application is selected for funding, the applicant’s plan for securing independent third-party investor funds (i.e., the Finance Plan submitted as part of the application) will become a term of award as described in Section VI.1 Award Notices. It is anticipated that many of the partnerships between applicant SBCs and third-party investors will involve a considerable level of project due diligence by the private sector, thereby increasing the likelihood of commercial success for the funded projects. In light of these goals, the NHLBI strongly encourages applicants to establish business relationships with investors and/or strategic partners that have appropriate prior experience in commercializing emerging biomedical technologies. B. Scientific/Technical Scope The technical and commercial objectives described in the SBIR Phase IIB Bridge Award application MUST represent an extension of the development efforts that were pursued in a previously funded SBIR or STTR Phase II award. It is essential that significant progress was accomplished during the current/preceding SBIR or STTR Phase II project and that the proposed product has significant commercial potential. Applicants are expected to demonstrate that the proposed product has a clear advantage over existing and/or competing products and to define an appropriate path toward ultimate product commercialization. This FOA is specifically designed to provide additional support for products that require ultimate approval/clearance by a Federal regulatory agency. Although projects previously funded by another NIH Institute/Center or another Federal agency are eligible for funding under this FOA, proposed projects MUST be relevant to the NHLBI?mission. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the NHLBI to discuss whether their proposed project meets this criterion. The NHLBI supports development of technologies to detect, prevent, or treat cardiovascular, lung, blood, and sleep disorders. It also supports research on the clinical use of blood and all aspects of the management and safety of blood resources. The NHLBI SBIR/STTR program fosters basic, applied, and clinical research on products related to the?mission?of the NHLBI. The NHLBI program priority areas for technology development research include: Cardiovascular Diseases areas:? heart failure, atherothrombosis, heart attack, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation along with other atrial and ventricular arrhythmias, sudden cardiac death, adult and pediatric congenital heart disease, cardiovascular complications of diabetes, and obesity, acquired valve disease, cardiomyopathies, and peripheral vascular diseases. Lung Diseases areas:? asthma, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, respiratory neurobiology, sleep-disordered breathing, critical care, and acute lung injury, developmental biology and pediatric pulmonary diseases, immunologic and fibrotic pulmonary disease, rare lung disorders, pulmonary vascular disease, and pulmonary complications of AIDS and tuberculosis. Blood Diseases and Resources areas: sickle cell disease (SCD), the thalassemias, Fanconi anemia, Diamond-Blackfan anemia, and other bone marrow failure syndromes, iron chelation, fetal hemoglobin production, white blood cell disorders, myeloproliferative and myelodysplastic syndromes, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and novel cell-based therapies, transfusion medicine (red blood cells, platelets, and plasma) and blood banking including technologies to store, process, and screen blood, thrombosis and hemostatic disorders including but not limited to idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), hemophilia, and coagulation factor deficiencies and disorders. Rare diseases: Please note that the companion NHLBI SBIR Phase IIB Small Market Awards funding opportunity,?RFA-HL-23-008, supports the development of products addressing rare and pediatric diseases. Applicants working with applications in this area are encouraged to consider this funding opportunity. Examples of appropriate development activities to be proposed under this FOA include, but are not limited to the following areas: For projects pertaining to the development of therapeutics - Applicants are expected to propose activities that will lead to the successful filing of an Investigational New Drug (IND) application or clinical studies to support the filing of a New Drug Application (NDA) and/or Biological License Application (BLA). For projects pertaining to imaging technologies, interventional devices, and in vivo diagnostics - Applicants are expected to propose activities that will lead to the successful filing of a 510(k) application, Premarket Approval (PMA) application, or an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) application. For projects pertaining to ex vivo or in vitro diagnostics, prognostics, and screening tests - Applicants are expected to propose activities that will lead to the successful filing of a 510(k) application, Premarket Approval (PMA) application, an Investigational New Drug (IND) application, and/or Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) application, as needed for the specific technology/system/assay. NHLBI expects that activities to be pursued under this FOA will address any relevant requirements for clinical validation and regulatory approval, as necessary and required for commercialization of the technology. Specific activities to be proposed will vary among applications. C. Plan for Full Commercialization The goal of the SBIR Phase IIB Bridge Award is to advance SBIR or STTR Phase II projects toward ultimate commercialization. All applicants are expected to describe a realistic plan (extending beyond the SBIR Phase IIB Bridge Award project period) that outlines how and when full commercialization can be accomplished. The long-term commercialization strategy should be presented as part of the 12-page Commercialization Plan. The full commercialization plan for the product should extend beyond the period of SBIR funding. ?Criteria for Complete, Compliant, and Responsive Applications Applications deemed to be non-responsive will not proceed to review. The following are considered non-responsive to this FOA:? Applications that do not propose a budget amount and project period that conform to the limits described under Section II ("Award Budget" and "Award Project Period") Applications that do not propose R&D that represents the continuation of work conducted under a previously-funded SBIR or STTR Phase II award (grant or contract) Applications that do not propose R&D that falls within the technical scope of this FOA as described under Section I (Specific Objectives for SBIR Phase IIB Bridge Award Applications) Applications that do not contain a Commercialization Plan that includes all sections (a-l) and the required elements for each section, as described under Section IV ("SBIR/STTR Information: Commercialization Plan") Applications that do not include letters of support from third-party investors in the Letters of Support section ("PHS 398 Research Plan"), and/or documentation of support from third-party investors in the Other Project Information section ("Other Attachments")
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