Open Mike

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NIH Helps Small Businesses Change the World

Did you know that the NIH’s small business programs (SBIR and STTR) invest over 1 billion dollars into life science and healthcare companies each year? The newly-created Small business Education and Entrepreneurial Development (SEED) office provides grantees with many of the valuable entrepreneurship and commercialization services we have discussed in previous blogs to help them thrive.

As our small business program has grown, we have seen early ideas transform into improved patient access to technologies. To celebrate these successes, the NIH has launched a new interactive mapping tool that features many of the amazing stories that have come out of NIH small business investments.

Our interactive mapping tool allows you to explore the stories in many ways. Looking for a successful small business in California? Select the pin in San Francisco and read about the spoon that counteracts hand tremors that are due to movement disorders like Parkinson’s and cerebral palsy and allow patients to feed themselves. You may have heard about the spoon when its developer Liftware was acquired by Google in 2014, but did you know that the technology was developed through an NIH SBIR grant? You can find out more by reading their success story here.

photo of spoon developed by Liftware

You can also read about companies that have applied the technology they developed with NIH support to quickly address emerging public health needs from this current pandemic. Learn, for example, about the small business funding that set the stage for BioMedomics of North Carolina to pivot from a rapid blood test for diagnosing sickle cell disease to a rapid COVID-19 blood test that provides results within 15 minutes in a format like a pregnancy test. The company recently teamed up with medical technology company BD in hopes of distributing the test in the U.S. pending FDA approval. The company is also working on another test that can identify a COVID-19 infection before antibodies are detectable.

Whether you search by the type of technology, or funding institute, or company locale, the stories detail how new technologies often are discovered in the most interesting places: from university research labs to soccer fields.  I encourage all of you to visit the new success stories website and discover many of the incredible discoveries made possible by NIH support. Check back frequently because the number of stories will grow as additional successes emerge and are added to the site.

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