July 6, 2009

Stimulus bypasses small biotech firms

A wrinkle in the stimulus funding administered by the National Institutes of Health slants funding against small companies, various executives said.

The agency targets 2.8 percent of its grants each year for small businesses, The Washington Post reported Monday.

But the $10 billion in funding it received from the $787 billion stimulus spending bill exempted the agency from having to set aside any funds for smaller companies.

It has just been a slap in the face to small business, said Aprile Pilon, president of APC Biotechnologies.

There's no doubt that if the exemption wasn't there, that more money would be available for applicants and in line with the goals of the stimulus, Gencia Chief Executive Officer Allen Cunningham said.

Insult was added to injury when acting NIH Director Raynard Kingston missed a hearing set up by Sen. Benjamin Cardin and Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards, all D-Md., to address the concerns of small businesses.

Sally Rockey, director of extramural research at NIH said no NIH representatives were available to attend the hearing, but the three Maryland politicians sent Kingston a letter that said his absence indicated his indifference.