Thursday, August 23, 2007

Cash is Coming: Time for Stem Cell Firms To Show Up

Attention California stem cell firms: If you are looking for millions in grants from the state's stem cell agency and if you want to have an impact on how the money is given out, mark Sept. 7 on your calendar.

On that date, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has scheduled an "interested parties" meeting with teleconference locations in San Diego and San Francisco.

Here are some of the topics to be discussed.

"What unique situations might arise in for-profit organizations as opposed to academic or non-profit settings that would impact a current or previously-funded CIRM project (e.g., partnering, bankruptcy)? How should these changes be effectively managed?

"Given that the CIRM will require annual financial and programmatic reports, as well as reports of licensing activities, patent applications, and commercialization activities, what information can reasonably be provided to the CIRM by grantees or their successors? How can the CIRM best monitor the performance and commercial development activities of grantees and licensees of CIRM-funded patented inventions?

"In the context of the CIRM’s preference for California suppliers of goods and services, what proposals or concerns should be considered by the CIRM in managing potential pass-through costs to non-Californian entities?

"Given that there are various methods of accounting for grant-related activities in for-profit organizations, how well do the Proposition 71 definitions of 'direct research funding costs' and 'indirect costs' reflect these activities?"

A couple of things can said about the Sept. 7 session. One is that the CIRM staff has done a fine job of posting a public notice of this session well in advance. That allows time for interested parties to prepare and to come to the table with well-thought-out suggestions. We might add that it is also useful if recommendations are written, which provides more nuanced information that can be easily referred to later. Oral presentations are necessarily shorter and transitory.

The other comment that can be made is that California's biotech community sometimes seems as if it doesn't know that regulations and grant procedures are being established that could have a major impact on their enterprises within the next year or so. While it is difficult to quantify, business turnout at some CIRM sessions seems limited to a handful of firms. CIRM has $3 billion to hand out. If biotech firms want a healthy chunk of that on good terms, now is the time to make their case. Otherwise, they can continue to wrestle with the usual financial alligators. And, as they know, that can be an unpleasant and fruitless experience. Sphere: Related Content

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