Final Word: Obtaining Government Funding in a Post 9/11/Era - Federal preparedness programs have made billions available to savvy biotech and biopharmaceutical firms - BioPharm International

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Final Word: Obtaining Government Funding in a Post 9/11/Era
Federal preparedness programs have made billions available to savvy biotech and biopharmaceutical firms


BioPharm International


Marcia Parker, PhD
The ripple effects of 9/11 are still being felt, creating changes among individuals, businesses, and government organizations. The biotech community is no different; companies are taking a new look at the way they do business and shifting their focuses in response to new opportunities presented by federal preparedness programs. In 2004, President Bush signed "Project BioShield," a bill that made $5.6 billion in federal funds available over a 10-year period to develop countermeasures against chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attack. An additional $2.5 billion was added to the initiative in 2005. Numerous grants and contracts have already been awarded to companies developing innovative prophylactic measures, treatments, and diagnostic tools to be used in the event of a biological attack.

BE ALERT TO OPPORTUNITIES

When major events — such as 9/11 or, more recently, Hurricane Katrina — create new needs in an environment, businesses must be ready to respond. Project BioShield funding opportunities are available through a number of federal agencies such as the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As funding opportunities become available, these organizations update their websites; be sure to check them regularly.

DO THE PAPERWORK

Once you have identified funding that you think is appropriate for your company, you need to initiate the application process. The initial introduction of a company to a governmental agency usually comes in the form of a written submission describing the company's expertise. Most Request for Proposals (RFPs) are detailed regarding the organization and the key points that must be addressed. Contract proposals for federal funding almost always require two submissions: a technical proposal and a business proposal. The business proposal should be very detailed, with each of the costs cross-referenced to tasks outlined in the technical proposal. In the technical proposal you will detail your firm's plan for accomplishing the goals put forth in the RFP. Throughout both proposals, it is important to stress the experience your company has relevant to the RFP requirements.

Several key individuals in the government participate in biodefense research and contracts. They are research directors, grant and contract officers, operations directors, and public relations officials. Get to know them if you can. Opportunities to meet these individuals occur throughout the year at meetings with an anti-bioterrorism focus. Many of these gatherings are noted on the same websites that publish grant opportunities.

RESULTS MATTER

As with any contract, government or otherwise, once it has been awarded, performance is key; especially if you wish to be considered for future grants. Government agencies require strict accounting for funds spent including monthly accounting reports. Timelines must be adhered to, as do schedules of deliverables, and all of them at or under budget and monitored by mandatory monthly progress reports. Excellent performance by a company in one government grant does not assure future awards by other government agencies; but a successful track record goes a long way towards obtaining additional awards.

Marcia Parker, PhD, is director of clinical operations for the Life Sera division of Life Therapeutics, 736 Park North Boulevard, Clarkston, GA 30021, 404.300.5000, fax 404.300.5301,

Important Websites

http:// http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/

http:// http://www2.niaid.nih.gov/Biodefense

http:// http://www.cdc.gov/about/funding.htm

http:// http://www.fedbizopps.gov/

http:// http://www.nih.gov/

http:// http://www.fsri.org/grant_program_opportunities.htm

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