Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer of both men and women in the United States, with more than 130,000 new cases of colon and rectal cancer diagnosed every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
If detected early, colorectal cancer can be more easily and successfully treated.
In Alabama, two University of South Alabama professors, Dr. Thomas Rich, associate professor of pharmacology, and Dr. Silas Leavesley, associate professor of chemical and bimolecular engineering, are working through their Mobile-based startup, SpectraCyte, to provide an advanced gastrointestinal endoscope with improved sensitivity and specificity for early detection of colorectal cancers.
But SpectraCyte’s potential groundbreaking research and technology requires funding. In 2014, the research team was awarded $87,000 through Alabama Launchpad’s Startup Competition in its mission to create the advanced endoscopic imaging technology for cancer detection.
Leavesley explains that the startup is still in the research and development to market transition, so obtaining U.S. Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) grants is a critical next step for SpectraCyte.
Through SBIR/STTR, the federal government invests more than $2 billion in early stage and high growth small businesses to engage in research and development for projects of interest to various government departments that also have commercial potential.
The grants, described as America’s largest seed fund, are competitive and fund small businesses to develop innovative, high-risk technologies with the goal of increasing private sector commercialization into the marketplace.
In 2015, Alabama Launchpad has been able once again to assist SpectraCyte through the Alabama(SBIR/STTR) Support Program Phase 0 Awards Assistance. Started in 2014, the Launchpad program, among other things, helps small businesses obtain preliminary research data needed to have a successful proposal and assists a first time Phase I or Phase II winner set up appropriate grant compliance for accounting systems.
SpectraCyte is one of six companies to receive $5,000 awards to help obtain preliminary research data needed to have a successful proposal.
“We were thrilled to hear about the Phase 0 awards available through Alabama Launchpad, which include both financial support for preliminary data as well as dedicated one-on-one time to work with a grants consultant while writing the grant,” Leavesley said.
Leavesley noted that SpectraCyte will use the award to help collect preliminary data demonstrating the ability of the new endoscope to detect colorectal cancer and will also highly benefit from consultant feedback on its grant proposal.
Leavesley recommends other entrepreneurs seeking SBIR/STTR funding to take advantage of Alabama Launchpad’s valuable Phase O assistance.
“It is important that the first submission of an SBIR/STTR be high quality and as competitive as possible,” he said. “The Phase 0 award will help us to submit a more competitive proposal.”
Alabama Launchpad, a program of the Economic Development Partnership, is proud to award a Phase 0 grant to an Alabama innovative company working to make a difference in the fight against cancer and to create future jobs for the state.
Interested in learning more about the SBIR program and application process? Visit the Alabama Launchpad website or contact Mary Hope Garmon at 205-943-4727 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.