Alabama Launchpad programming support described as “invaluable” to helping Mobile early stage bio-tech company land $3 million NIH grant for potential life-saving treatment

In Mobile, Exscien Corporation, an early stage bio-tech company, is working diligently to develop life-saving drug treatments to repair damage to mitochondrial DNA, aiming to provide treatment for diseases, ranging from organ transplant to multi-organ system failure.

The startup company recently received a $3 million federal funding boost, winning a Phase II of the Small Business Technology Transfer National Institutes of Health grant with assistance from Alabama Launchpad, a program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. This is so important because the NIH SBIR program funds early stage small businesses that seek to commercialize innovative biomedical technologies and helps small businesses participate in federal research and development, develop life-saving technologies, and create jobs, according to the NIH.

Alabama Launchpad was excited to learn of the NIH grant because Exscien is a 2013 Launchpad Startup Competition winner and also received assistance through the Alabama Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Support Program. Exscien is one of many companies that took advantage of writing assistance from Alabama Launchpad’s consultant, Jim Greenwood of Greenwood Consulting Group, Inc. (GCGI). The company also is one of six companies to receive $5,000 awards for accounting compliance.

Exscien’s Chief Executive Officer W.K. (Ker) Ferguson explained that the assistance of Alabama Launchpad and its programming support provided Exscien with overall guidance and insights into the preparation of its grant submissions, as well as direct, expert feedback on Exscien’s research and commercialization plans for the Phase II application.

“This support was invaluable and no doubt contributed to a perfect score of ’10’ on our Phase II application to the NIH and an award in excess of $3 million over two years,” Ferguson noted.

Exscien, one of the first tenants of the University of South Alabama’s Coastal Innovation Hub, is highly dependent on the SBIR/STTR program to assist in the development of its ‘drug’ technology, according to Ferguson.

“This is especially true when one considers the nature of the technology and its far-reaching potential,” Ferguson explained. “With a platform technology, with applications in such diverse areas as stroke, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration, organ transplant, etc. Exscien faces an immense challenge to fully develop and capitalize on all aspects its technology. Accordingly, success in the SBIR/STTR program is paramount.”

This confirms that the Alabama Launchpad SBIR/STTR Support Program, started in 2014 and designed to boost the success of Alabama companies in receiving a share of the $2 billion SBIR/STTR federal grant funding awarded annually by the federal government, is needed.

Alabama Launchpad continues its mission to make innovative small businesses in Alabama aware of the federal research and development funds and to make submissions for funding from Alabama businesses more competitive through advanced training.

Interested in learning more about the SBIR program and application process or know of small innovative companies that could benefit? Visit the Alabama Launchpad website or contact Mary Hope Garmon at 205-943-4727 or email mgarmon@edpa.org.

Left to right are: Steve Cumbie, Christine Chancery, Ker Ferguson, Dr. Mark Gillespie and Dr. Glenn Wilson (Photo by Tad Denson of Airwind)

Left to right are: Steve Cumbie, Christine Chancery, Ker Ferguson, Dr. Mark Gillespie and Dr. Glenn Wilson (Photo by Tad Denson of Airwind)