Friday, December 05, 2008

Fast-Tracking CIRM Cash for Business

Biotech businesses could get a hefty financial helping hand under a plan coming up early next week before the directors of California's $3 billion stem cell agency.

The proposal would dramatically accelerate funding of grants to the private sector, delivering cash immediately on approval of the grants, as opposed to months later.

CIRM said,
"The biotechnology sector in California faces significant challenges arising from the credit crisis and economic downturn. Press reports suggest that venture capitalists have advised their biotechnology clients to cut costs in order to survive current economic conditions, which are expected to persist for at least the next 12 months. In order to achieve its mission, it is critical that CIRM partner with biotechnology companies in translational research, preclinical development and clinical programs. The financial stability of the industry therefore is essential to CIRM’s success."
Businesses would have to choose the fast-track financing to be eligible, but there seems to be no reason they wouldn't.

Generally speaking, however, fast-tracking can create a climate in which speed is favored over quality and thoroughness. CIRM's proposal could pose similar risks.

That said, if CIRM can do this for business, why shouldn't it be done for all grants. Time is money even in academia. Advancing the onset of research in universities also advances the results, which is what CIRM is all about.

The fast-track proposal is part of additional background information that is appearing on the CIRM web site as part of the directors' meeting agenda.

Here are links to other background material to be considered next Tuesday and Wednesday in Irvine.

Grant Review Group decisions on the $20 million tools and technology round and summaries of the proposals.

The latest draft of the CIRM grants administration policy for academic and non-profit institutions.

Three new alternate members of the grant review group: Andrew Barber, Richard Harvey and Steven Sheridan.

Still missing is background information on the salary request by CIRM Chairman Robert Klein, a proposal to triage proposals for grants and the application by the International Society for Stem Cell Research for funding of a conference.

Two business days remain before the CIRM board meeting begins on Tuesday.

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