A bipartisan COVID-19 stimulus deal signed into law on Friday, March 27, includes billions for hospitals and critical medical supplies. Life Science Companies in the therapeutic, diagnostics and manufacturing industry are also a direct beneficiary of the legislation through the establishment of federal government grant programs directed toward funding research for new COVID-19 projects. These funding opportunities are primarily funneled through The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). 

NIH will receive $946 million for vaccine development and other research programs related to COVID-19 pursuant to the stimulus measure, on top of about $1 billion allocated in the first COVID-19 spending bill signed into law on March 6, 2020. Other highlights of the signed legislation include a provision to make it easier for BARDA to enter into agreements with drug companies in a way that bypasses federal agencies’ capability to invoke "march in" rights and take away a company's patent exclusivity.

A BARDA solicitation that details the application process for Life Science company funding can be found here.

The solicitation reports that funded program projects will receive up to $750,000 for research in the area of COVD-19 therapeutics, diagnostics, and advanced methods of manufacturing. Vaccine development and projects that would lead to point-of-care diagnostic devices are highlighted as especially fundable projects under the program guidelines. Manufacturing resources and methods that will be considered should focus on “processes that improve pharmaceutical quality, rapidly scale manufacturing capabilities, shorten supply chains, increase manufacturing resilience to disruption, accelerate availability of emerging therapies/vaccines, or reduce the risk of pharmaceutical shortages.” Contact information for each project is provided in the announcement, and, while no certain number of project awards have been outlined, BARDA expects that “multiple” grants will be awarded. The government will keep the solicitation open for submissions until June 30, 2020.

Further answers to common questions regarding the funding opportunities and descriptions of other project awards can be found at the COVID-19 BARDA research portal, which was originally established earlier month here. The link provides for additional potential project submission directions and direct communication links with BARDA and Department of Health and Human Service employees to triage COVID-19 application requests. Notice on the BARDA website provides that review of other fundable projects within the organization has been suspended in favor of COVID-19-only projects.

Several state governments are also beginning to mobilize funding resources to the life science community for COVID-19 countermeasures. Updates to this notice that include state funding opportunities will be provided as developments occur.

The members of Ballard Spahr’s Life Sciences and Technology Group can help guide you through this process.

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