Innovation Grants and Unsung Life Sciences Startups of San Diego

Xconomy San Diego — 

It comes as no surprise that federal grants for innovative research or technology transfer have become a lifeline for many early stage life sciences startups in the San Diego area.

What may be surprising, though, is the extent of such funding, and the number of local biotech and medical device companies that have gotten Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants over the past decade.

Since 2005, the multi-agency National Institutes of Health alone has awarded more than $364 million in grants to at least 230 life sciences companies in the San Diego area, according to a review of innovation grant data by Xconomy and GrantIQ, a Santa Monica, CA, startup that aggregates public information on federal research and innovation funding.

Casting a wider net to include funding from other federal agencies (Congress authorized 12 agencies to award innovation grants), GrantIQ reports that over $570 million has been awarded to companies throughout the San Diego area through 1,905 innovation grants.

At my request, GrantIQ developed a public report for Xconomy that lists the 230 San Diego life sciences companies that received SBIR or STTR grants from the NIH. The interactive report, available online here, enables users (who can register for a free trial period) to search for information about grants awarded to each of the 230 companies over the past decade. GrantIQ operates, a subscription-based website that provides data, analytics, and insights about innovation funding.

Prognosys Biosciences symbolThe list is a trove of unsung startups that represent a coming wave of life sciences innovation in San Diego, led by Prognosys Biosciences, a next-generation genome sequencing and analytics company that has been operating in stealth mode for 10 years.

Other up-and-coming startups on the list are Genalyte, a startup developing photonic technology on a chip to perform as many as 128 diagnostic tests on a single drop of blood; Epigen Biosciences, a collaborative startup applying a host of drug discovery tools to reach proof-of-concept faster; Novoron Bioscience, a two-year-old startup developing new drugs for nerve regeneration; Aspyrian Therapeutics, an anti-cancer startup that uses near-infrared light to activate antibody conjugates; and Sirenas Marine Discovery, a four-year-old startup identifying new small molecule drugs from marine organisms.

Top-Funded Grant Recipients

SBIRSource Listing of San Diego’s Top-Funded Grant Recipients

CEO Darren Rush said he co-founded GrantIQ with Chris Jones, director of strategic technology development at Bedford, MA-based iRobot, in 2012. “We leveraged a lot of Chris’s program knowledge, as he led iRobots’ SBIR efforts until the point they no longer qualified as a ‘small’ business, CEO Darren Rush said. GrantIQ’s customers “are more and more, larger organizations who use the SBIR programs as a hunting ground for new technologies to license, acquire, or partner,” Rush said.

Altogether, federal agencies dispense roughly $2.5 billion each year through innovation grants. On its website for the program, the NIH says it will invest over $780 million through innovation grants this year to early stage life sciences companies. A key objective is commercializing … Next Page »

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2 responses to “Innovation Grants and Unsung Life Sciences Startups of San Diego”

  1. Curt says:

    So why isn’t Molecular Assemblies on the list?

  2. Bruce V. BigelowBVBigelow says:

    Curt, the list was based on life science companies in San Diego that were awarded SBIR or STTR grants from the NIH since 2005. Did Molecular Assemblies get innovation grant funding in that time period?