The Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association (WBBA) hosted a workshop titled “Non-Dilutive Funding: Finding It, Getting It, and Using It Strategically to Move Your Company Forward”. Given the standing-room-only audience of more than 100 people, clearly this is a topic of high interest.
The morning began (at the reasonable hour of 8am) with some opening remarks from WBBA President Chris Rivera welcomed everyone and set the stage for the morning. This was followed by a 20-minute presentation from Stephanie Fertig, Project Manager of the Small Business Program with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a program within the NIH. Stephanie gave a great overview of the SBIR and STTR programs within NINDS, and a quick “Top 10” most asked questions.
The first panel discussion, moderated by Patricia Beckman, founder of BioStrategy, LLC, focused on early-stage resources for non-dilutive funding. Panelists were Allison Formal, VP for Research and Business Development at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, John DesRosier, Executive Director of the Life Sciences Discovery Fund, Stephanie Fertig, Susan Ashe, Executive Director of Health Sciences & Services Authority, and Rick Shindell, President of Zyn Systems. Economic impact and tie ins with regional economic development were themes from LSDF and HSSA, while LLS and NIH were less concerned with economic development in their programs. While each presenter offered their views on funding and resources, a common theme which emerged was communicate, communicate, and communicate, particularly with your program and/or grant officer. Amazing this is still one of the most common lapses today.
After Stephanie Fertig spoke a second time about additional, later-stage resource available for entrepreneurs, a second panel presented on additional options for companies that are likely out of discover phase and quickly entering the Valley of Death. Bart Phillips, VP at Innovate Washington, Gary Spanner, Director of the Economic Development Office at PNNL, Christiana Dellorusso, VP of Commercialization at WBBA, and Jeanette Ennis, Gap Funding Manager at UW’s C4C, spoke about their experiences and resources for supporting entrepreneurs. This panel was hosted by WSU’s VP for Economic Development Anson Fatland. Go Cougs!
The wrap up session brought together three CEO’s from local biotech companies which all used, to varying degrees, non-dilutive funding and commercialization resources. Michael Hilte from Impel Neuroscience, Matthew Scholz from Immusoft, and Erik Nilsson had at least one common thread between them: a startup is hard work but worth every minute spent!
Presentation slides are available on the WBBA’s website.