By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – Members of the R.I. BioScience Leaders gathered on July 23 to celebrate its victory in having $500,000 added to the state budget next year to provide matching support for federal Small Business Innovation Research awards. The funds will be administered by the R.I. Science and Technology Advisory Council.
The money, which will be used for $3,000 coaching grants for applicants and up to $100,000 in state matching grants to award-winning SBIR proposals from Rhode Island companies, is a major accomplishment for the nascent group just six months old.
The collaborative organization of some 30 CEOs, COOs, founding scientists and decision-makers from 24 bioscience firms had banded together with the goal of helping companies “get to the next level.”
The co-founders were Edward G. Bozzi, an assistant clinical professor in URI’s Biotechnology Manufacturing program, and Denice Spero, the former co-director of iCubed, the Institute for Immunology and Informatics. who is now working with NsGene’s Brain Repair device division.
The group’s initial focus is on smaller Rhode Island companies that are making small molecule drugs, therapeutics, or a device that has a biologic component that can impact human health, according to Spero.
The matching grants, said Andrew Mallon, CEO of Calista Therapeutics, helps to build a model for success for future state matching investment. “The more help that peopled can get [in supporting the development of new businesses], the better,” he said.
The legislative win marks a good first step, according to Mallon.
“We want to create an environment that supports the growth of companies, so each company can move to the next level,” Spero told the Providence Business News in an earlier interview. “By doing that, it will do a lot of good things for Rhode Island, bringing in more jobs and more money.”