Monday, February 02, 2015

California's Stem Cell Agency Receives Two Applications in Kick-off of Fast-track Program

The California stem cell agency said today that its new, $50 million CIRM 2.0 program has attracted two applications from businesses for funding of clinical stage work.

The $3 billion agency refused to reveal any further information about the applications, which are part of a radical overhaul of its grant-making efforts.

The next applications in the round are due on Feb. 27.  End-of-the month, rolling deadlines for applications will continue through the middle of this year. The agency did not expect to see a rush of applicants last month because the new, rolling deadlines allow researchers greater flexibility on when they can seek financing.

The goal of the CIRM 2.0 program, which was devised by Randy Mills, president of the agency, is to fast-track funds to researchers and improve the quality of applications.

If the applications that were filed last Friday are approved, the companies should receive their cash before the beginning of May. That compares to an average of about 22 months under former agency President Alan Trounson.

The agency, formally known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine or CIRM, has yet to officially promulgate the rules for the grant rules as well as revised loan policies.

Both items were on tap for last week’s board meeting. They were put off until the March meeting while unspecified revisions are being made. A draft is available for the new grant administrative process.

The agency has declined to disclose the draft of the new loan regulations. The loans have been attractive to businesses in the past because they are forgivable if no commercial product results. It is not clear whether the agency intends to continue with that policy.

The California Stem Cell Report has asked the agency for the amount being sought on each application, the general nature of the research being proposed and which of the three CIRM 2.0 programs the applications address.
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