The governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) approved $30 million toward a program that will cultivate partnerships between stem cell scientists and biotech and pharmaceutical companies. It separately approved future funding rounds worth $38 million to foster scientific innovation in high school students and fund basic stem cell discoveries.
The $30 million Strategic Partnership Funding Program was originally part of the $30 million Opportunity Fund, approved by the board in June. After review, the Intellectual Property and Scientific Subcommittees recommended that the full amount originally designated for the Opportunity Fund be allocated solely to the Strategic Partnership Funding Program.
Funding for the other programs encompassed in the Opportunity Fund will be addressed later. These include the Bridge Fund, which would provide uninterrupted funding until the next relevant Request for Applications is offered, with the maximum supplement of $5 million, and the External Innovation Funding Program, which would provide a fellowship for scientists based outside California to work with CIRM-funded investigators through a 12-month supplemental funding of up to $500,000 to an existing CIRM-funded research award.
The Strategic Partnership Funding Program has three main objectives:
- Enhance the likelihood that CIRM-funded projects will obtain funding for Phase III trials
- Provide a potential source of co-funding in the earlier stages of clinical development
- Provide CIRM-funded projects with access to pharmaceutical and large biotech partners that can provide valuable expertise in the areas of regulatory activities, clinical trial design, and manufacturing process development.
The $38 million Creativity Awards concept expands on the pilot program held during the summer of this year, which supported high school students conducting stem cell research at four universities in California. The new program will fund summer internships for high school students for three years at up to 10 California universities.
Specifically, the concept approved for the fourth round of the Basic Biology Awards would fund up to 25 three-year awards worth a total of up to $35 million. And under a $3 million program, in addition to carrying out stem cell research, the supported students are strongly encouraged to carry out a project in a second discipline of their choice.