Thursday, November 13, 2008

$500 Million Biotech Loan Program Comes Up Next Week

Some of the nitty-gritty of CIRM's proposed $500 million biotech loan program is scheduled to be revealed next week – a matter that may be a matter of great interest for financially starving stem cell companies.

So far, all we have are cryptic agenda items, but more information may be forthcoming, hopefully in time for interested parties to give them a serious look well ahead of next Wednesday's meeting of the CIRM Finance Committee.

Here is what is on the table next week:
"Consideration of policies and implementation plan/processes for CIRM loan program.
"Consideration of Loan Advance Program for approval of grants and loans."
We have yet to see a genuine business plan for the biotech lending proposal. And it is certainly a business and a risky one. Instead information has dribbled out over the last year or so, mostly becoming public only a day or two before the public meetings at which the proposal is to be discussed. One would hope that at some point CIRM Chairman Robert Klein, who originated the proposal, would put together a presentation of the sort that entrepreneurs typically submit to lenders and others when they are seeking cash for a start-up.

For the latest iteration of the biotech loan program, see four documents from the September CIRM board meeting and the transcript of the session. Mike Goldberg, a venture capitalist and chair of the Finance Committee, gave a lucid explanation of the proposal, although it was interrupted intermittently.

Next week's hearing is the last stop before the loan program goes to the full CIRM board for approval.

Also on the committee's agenda next week is the following item:
"Consideration of California requests to the US Presidential Transition team for CIRM programs and for general biotech community financial support programs."
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