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  • Liam Boyd

Understanding BARDA


This image shows a scientist in a lab who is working on the developmental stages of organs-on-chips.

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ICYMI, wind is coming back into the sails of biotech (1).  With funding on the rise, industry attention is increasingly turning towards opportunities to raise, partner, and IPO (2).  Nonetheless, it’s important for leaders to stay abreast of all available avenues for funding and collaborations, especially those that can deliver when others can’t.  One such avenue is BARDA, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

 

BARDA, a department of HHS, supports a wide mandate to prepare for and protect the U.S. from bioterrorism, pandemics, and emerging diseases. It does so by both stockpiling medical countermeasures and supporting a diverse body of research for next-gen solutions.  This support often comes in the form of direct investment, but also includes partner capital, FDA navigation support, and access to subject matter experts (SMEs).  For companies looking to make a difference in public health matters, BARDA offers a plethora of different resources and funding avenues.


For companies looking to make a difference in public health matters, BARDA offers a plethora of different resources and funding avenues.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, BARDA awarded $65b towards the development of 98 different diagnostic, therapeutic, and vaccine products, and held more than 650 meetings to align developers with US government SMEs.  This focused investment and coordination enabled rapid development, approval, and distribution of numerous products, including Moderna’s mRNA-1273 and Pfizer’s Comirnaty vaccines.

 

Though the pandemic effort serves as an impressive example of how effectively BARDA can accelerate drug development, this unilateral focus is not the agency’s typical posture.  Instead, BARDA diversifies their investments, supporting several efforts across each of their domain specialties (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense).  This “portfolio” strategy enables them to quickly scale-up operations around many potential risks, instead of pursuing more advantageous positioning for a smaller subset of outcomes. The agency also considers the complete spectrum of care delivery, including vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices, and discovery platforms.

 

Since its founding 18 years ago, BARDA has supported FDA approvals, licensures, and clearances for 89 products, nearly 5 per year (3).  The agency's funding opportunities come in various forms, each tailored to support different stages of research and development.

 

Funding Opportunities


BARDA’s Division of Research, Innovation, and Venture’s (DRIVe) Easy Broad Agency Announcements (EZ-BAAs) serve as a primary avenue of funding for R&D programs, inviting proposals for a wide array of medical countermeasure (MCM)-related activities, for grants less than $750k. As an extension, DRIVe offers “+ Phase” awards, with funding up to $20M for the continuation of these efforts. EZ-BAAs cover topics ranging from vaccine development to platform technologies, providing ample opportunity to pitch innovation.

 

In parallel with its EZ-BAA system, BARDA consorts with venture funds and established pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide ecosystem support to developers through various initiatives.  These include Blue Knight (in collaboration with J&J’s incubator network, JLABS), BARDA Ventures (in collaboration with GHIC, a non-profit investment firm), several accelerator networks (consortia led by University Lab Partners and Start2 Group), and others. The variety of offerings reflect BARDA’s efforts to support innovation at many stages and towards diverse public health ends: each of these initiatives provide capital, lab resources, mentorship, and industry access to varying degrees depending on a participant’s needs.

 

Given the abundance of programs through which developers can engage with BARDA, industry days, workshops, and regular informational sessions provide valuable insight into which funding opportunities may fit best with a company’s stage of development and research focus.


The View from the Crow’s Nest


BARDA is a reliable provider of capital and non-financial support for industry projects that align with their public health mandate.  The often-non-dilutive funding is available for a variety of programs given the agency’s wide lens of focus and is offered through several vehicles specific to a company’s development stage.  In order to maximize funding opportunities, biotech leaders should stay abreast of BARDA’s initiatives.

 
If you are interested in learning more, get in touch at strategy@spinnakerLS.com. 

Spinnaker offers true partnership and comprehensive guidance to help leaders navigate the complexities of the Life Sciences industry and chart a path to success. From early-stage market assessment through commercial execution and ongoing lifecycle management, we deliver tailored solutions to ensure optimized practicable results.
 

Sources:  

1.      Biotech 2024: History Doesn’t Repeat Itself, but It Often Rhymes (https://www.spinnakerls.com/post/biotech-2024-history-doesn-t-repeat-itself-but-it-often-rhymes)

2.      Fierce Biotech Fundraising Tracker 2024 (https://www.fiercebiotech.com/biotech/fierce-biotech-fundraising-tracker-24)

3.      Medical Countermeasures | FDA APPROVALS, LICENSURES & CLEARANCES FOR BARDA SUPPORTED PRODUCTS (https://www.medicalcountermeasures.gov/barda/fdaapprovals)

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