Earlier this year, lawmakers slashed from the budget a state fund for life sciences. Well now that fund may have been put on life support.
The Life Sciences Discovery Fund had $2 million left in its treasury account after the Washington state Legislature approved a budget in June that revoked the rest of the LSDF’s money.
It’s planning to use that cash to launch a 2016 Life Sciences Ecosystem grant competition for “sustainable initiatives that will help Washington entrepreneurs better navigate the pathway from idea to market,” the organization said in a release.
This might seem like a small amount of money, but it’s significant for young entrepreneurs in the life sciences industry here in the Puget Sound region.
People in the Washington state life sciences industry refer to the LSDF’s grants — small grants of less than $1 million — as “high-impact” funding because it helps to get biotech companies over the valley of death — the time between an idea’s conception and bringing the product to market.
Now that those grants are essentially gone, the LSDF is focusing on funding other mechanisms to help companies navigate that valley.
“At a programmatic level, what tools do we need to have in play to help life sciences entrepreneurs bridge the gap between their ideas and the market?” said LSDF Executive Director John Des Rosier. “We hope any program funded through this competition will help sustain the momentum that has built up in this sector over the last 5-plus years.”
Ideally, these grants would be seed money for the grantee to then sustain in the future on its own.
The approved state budget shifted $11 million of the LSDF’s funding to the state’s general fund, and also diverted $51 million in funding that was to be allotted to the LSDF between 2016 and 2017.