As a faculty member at Wake Forest University, I met both Chris Veal and John Ujvari of the SBTDC at an on-campus presentation about NIH SBIR/STTR funding for small R&D companies. At a follow-up meeting with the team, CELLF-Bio presented the outlook of its research, and they encouraged me to apply for an STTR. This was our first time writing a small business grant. After connecting with the NIH program officer we determined a topic that was a strong fit for our research and we decided to apply for a fast track STTR. The fast track mechanism required that the Phase 1, Phase 2 and commercialization plan be submitted for consideration.
The SBTDC was extremely helpful in reviewing sections of our proposal and commercialization plan and providing proposal writing guidance materials. Upon incorporation of their feedback we submitted the grant application in July 2014 and in December of that year we received an impact score of 31. Although a strong score, funding was deferred. In consultation with both John and Chris, we strategized about the reviewer comments and the proposal was resubmitted in March 2015. The grant was reviewed again and this time received an impact score of 20.
Prior to funds being disbursed, we worked with the SBTDC to navigate the administrative concerns that NIH presented, namely accounting and conflict of interest issues. The fast track award was finally funded in September 2015, 15 months after initial submission. It has been a long road and we are pleased to now be conducting R&D.
This summer we look forward to taking part in the SBTDC’s Summer Graduate Student Consulting Program where they will place a part time business focused intern with CELFF-Bio and closed mentor him/her. This opportunity will be helpful as we continue our efforts to secure additional non-dilutive funding and attract investor funding.
Khalil N Bitar, PhD AGAF
Founder and CEO