Created by on 10/15/2012 12:00:00 AM

On October 3rd, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Scientific Management Review Board (SMBRB) held a meeting to update the public on the deliberations of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Working Group and solicit input from stakeholder groups. Last fall, the SMBR was charged with recommending strategies for how NIH can optimize its utilization of the SBIR/STTR programs. The Working Group is focusing on steps that NIH SBIR/STTR programs can take to foster innovation, fund quality proposals yielding the greatest potential for successful commercialization, and leverage existing resources and expertise to enable the success of agency grantees.
Working Group member Gail H. Cassell, PhD, began the meeting by providing a short overview of the committee’s preliminary findings, stating that the NIH SBIR/STTR programs are meeting their statutory objectives and that flexibility in IC program management is a considerable strength of the agency’s efforts. She also noted that the IC’s vary considerably in terms of the degree of program management, size of budget, implementation of pilot initiatives, and assessment of success, creating a unique opportunity to leverage lessons learned.
Two panel presentations followed Dr. Cassell’s remarks. The first panel featured representatives of the small business community who shared personal experiences with the SBIR/STTR programs including challenges and successes in commercializing biomedical products. Speakers also suggested ways in which SBIR/STTR programs could be strengthened by improving metrics for evaluating the success of grantees and continuing to ensure that grant review panels include individuals with industry expertise and experience. A second panel, which included entrepreneurs and investors in biomedical research, recommended that NIH continue to support high risk, high reward research through the SBIR/STTR program and that there should be an increased focus on mentoring new applicants, especially with regard to identifying the characteristics of projects that are likely to achieve success in commercializing products. The meeting concluded with a short discussion about best practices for increasing the commercialization of biomedical products developed through the SBIR/STTR programs. A webcast of the panel discussions and the meeting agenda are available on the NIH website.