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Biotechnology Innovation Grant (BIG)

Grants to North Carolina IHEs and Nonprofits to
Bring New Biotech Innovations to the Marketplace

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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North Carolina Biotechnology Center

Deadline Date:

02/21/18 Noon


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Grants to North Carolina universities and nonprofit research organizations to explore commercial opportunities for biotechnology innovations. Applicants are strongly encouraged to arrange a consultation and draft review with staff at least three weeks prior to the deadline. Awards are intended to support technical projects carried out in parallel with commercially-focused projects designed to contribute to early product milestones and inform subsequent development.

A successful BIG project can uncover technical and commercial opportunities or weaknesses; provide go/no-go decision points regarding continued development and IP protection; enhance IP value, and position the invention for further commercial development. More broadly, the BIG program helps nurture an entrepreneurial culture within the university by pairing technologists with commercial development expertise at the earliest stages of product development.

Eligible projects support inventions that have been disclosed to the university’s technology transfer office but have not yet been converted to a full non-provisional or PCT patent application. Note that the filing of a provisional patent application is allowable but not required.

A BIG project is comprised of two arms - a scientific or technical research study and an exploratory commercial development project. The technology must have the potential for significant contribution to the development of a commercial product in the biotechnology sector.

Technical Project
A technology or scientific discovery is poised for BIG funding when the basic research phase has been completed and is entering the translational research or preliminary product phase of development. At a minimum, an invention disclosure must have been submitted to an institution’s tech transfer office prior to submitting a BIG proposal.

Examples of technical project studies include:
- Proof-of-concept and feasibility studies
- Compound screening against a validated target
- Prototype development
- Scale-up pilot studies
- Optimization studies
- Other studies designed to achieve commercially relevant milestones

Commercial Development Project
Simultaneously, and in close coordination with the scientific/technical researchers, a partner referred to as the Commercial Development Adviser (CDA) undertakes the commercial development project. The CDA is responsible for writing and executing the Commercial Development Narrative, a project plan that details preliminary commercial development tasks to be achieved during the project.

The Commercial Development Project may include, but is not limited to, any or all of the following tasks:
- Examination of the market for the discovery/invention/product
- Analysis of the intellectual property (IP) landscape
- Creation of a commercial technology development plan (distinct from the technical development plan) that addresses specific product development milestones
- Clarification of the regulatory path necessary to gain market approval
- Assessment of a product’s potential impact on the market
- Competitive analysis of the market
- SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis
- Studies designed to assess commercial feasibility and guide further IP protection
- Analysis of other factors influencing commercial development

This program is intended to work upstream of the Center’s other technology development program for universities, the Technology Enhancement Grant, which supports subsequent technology licensing efforts by the university.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 178030

Estimated Size of Grant:

Maximum Award: $100,000

Term of Contract:

Project periods may range from 6 to 18 months. The projected start date for Cycle 2 awardees is no earlier than July 1, 2018, depending on the terms and conditions of the award.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Proposals must be submitted by a North Carolina university or nonprofit research organization.

Principal Investigator Requirements:
- The Principal Investigator must hold a full time tenure-track or tenured faculty appointment, or an equivalent appointment as a full-time research faculty with a dedicated independent lab at the applicant university.
- The PI may not have a financial relationship with the Commercial Development Adviser or with any firms funded by this award. Any potential conflicts of interest MUST be disclosed in the application.
- The PI may have no more than two active awards from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center at the same time.

Commercial Development Adviser Requirements:

- The Commercial Development Adviser will recommend and execute specific commercial development goals for the project and be required to complete the Commercial Development Narrative portion of the proposal.

- The Commercial Development Adviser role allows for a wide variety of experiences and backgrounds, including but not limited to:
1) Business expert(s) outside of the lab but within the university, such as an entrepreneur-in-residence, business school faculty or university staff responsible for new ventures development; or
2) Commercial experts outside the university, such as serial entrepreneurs, industry-experienced product development consultants, or investors with experience serving on the boards of startup companies or venture capital funds; or
3) Representatives of local entrepreneurship support organizations.

There are a number of organizations throughout the state that provide assistance to entrepreneurs and could potentially serve as Commercial Development Advisers. See the BIG FAQs for examples of qualified advisers and information on resources available for entrepreneurs in North Carolina.

- The CDA or a potential licensee cannot conduct the technical project experiments. These arrangements carry the risk that the project may appear as subsidized R&D for a company, which is not consistent with the objectives of the program.

- The CDA may not have a financial relationship with any firms funded by this award. Any potential conflicts of interest MUST be disclosed in the application.

Pre-Application Information:

Cycle 2 BIG Applications are due Wednesday, February 21, 2018 (Noon). Decisions will be issued in mid-June 2018.

Please note: Cycle 2 BIG proposals will be submitted using a new online application system, and new procedures will be in effect. Please check the website in early February 2018 for details and instructions.

Although not required, a pre-submission consultation is strongly encouraged. Please contact program staff at least three weeks prior to the deadline if you would like to schedule a consultation or have a draft proposal reviewed.

There is a minimum 10% match required from the university. In addition to the minimum 10% match, any equipment costing over $40,000 requires a direct 25% cash match. Funds should be allocated toward both the technical and commercialization aspects of the project. Up to 20% of the requested funds is expected to be directed toward commercial development activities.

If this is a resubmission of a previously submitted BIG proposal, you must contact Deborah De to indicate your intent and schedule a consultation. You will also receive instructions for including a response to the previous reviews in this proposal.


Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Please check the URL for RFP in early February 2018 for details to apply via the new online system.

For questions, please contact:

Deborah De, Senior Director

Science and Technology Development Program
North Carolina Biotechnology Center
15 T.W. Alexander Drive
P.O. Box 13547
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-3547

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: North Carolina