ARPA-H Fast-Tracks Biotech Startups: Funding Insights from BIO 2024 Panel

by Bernice Lottering
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ARPA-H accelerates biomedical innovation through agile funding and strategic collaboration, as discussed in insights from the BIO 2024 panel.

During a panel discussion at BIO 2024, experts discussed the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), a proposed agency by the United States government that aims to accelerate biomedical innovation and address health challenges through high-risk, high-reward research projects. Panelists highlighted how ARPA-H offers rapid and adaptable support to biotech startups, including funding, resources, and guidance, enabling these startups to develop innovations quickly and effectively.

Staff and fundees of ARPA-H revealed at a June 6 panel during the 2024 BIO International Convention in San Diego that obtaining government support for a biotech startup is now a quicker and smoother process. They informed an audience of biotech innovators that federal support for bringing their ideas to market has become faster and more accessible than in the past.

ARPA-H Catalyzes Biomedical Innovation with Agile Funding and Strategic Collaboration

ARPA-H, which launched just over two years ago, actively positions itself as a small, agile, and flexible agency dedicated to addressing diverse needs in the biomedical innovation sector. Panelists emphasized ARPA-H’s collaboration with both early-stage and late-stage innovations, facilitating rapid market entry. Unlike conventional grant providers, ARPA-H employs “other transactions” and cooperative agreements to fund biotech firms and impart valuable knowledge. This strategic approach fosters a business-to-business dynamic, enhancing speed, efficiency, and effectiveness in engagements. 

ARPA-H’s distinction was acknowledged by Jason Roos, Ph.D., Director of Scalable Solutions at ARPA-H. “We have the authority and flexibility that enable us to do business, more like a business-to-business type relationship,” he stated. Instead of offering grants, the agency provides funding through ‘other transactions’ and cooperative agreements, along with valuable knowledge. According to Roos, biotech firms can interface with ARPA-H through proactive idea submissions (push scenario) or by responding to specific project calls initiated by ARPA-H (pull scenario). 

Notably, the agency has disbursed nearly $1 billion across its portfolio, including a recent $100 million initiative targeting women’s health. Here, Susan Monarez, Ph.D., Deputy Director of ARPA-H, describes ARPA-H and how they’ve pushed out almost $1 billion in funding in just over one year. Essentially she expressed the agency’s unique ability to collaborate with public and private entities outside of government, highlighting the agency’s exceptional speed, efficiency, and effectiveness in comparison to her experiences in government roles.

ARPA-H’s Efficient Submission Process and Collaborative Project Management: Insights from Industry Leaders

Wade Shen, ARPA-H’s Director of Proactive Health, emphasizes the need for a succinct three-page solution summary in the submission process. This summary, akin to an abstract, allows ARPA-H to swiftly assess the feasibility of ideas without wasting time. Once an idea aligns with ARPA-H’s criteria, applicants are paired with project managers who oversee the entire process, ensuring a seamless experience. “What you need to submit is a solution summary, which is just an abstract. It’s literally three pages. In fact, it’s limited to three pages,” said Shen, adding that “If the idea looks like a fit, you will be paired with one of ARPA-H’s project managers, who drive the whole process.”

Stan Wang, CEO & Founder of Thymmune, praises ARPA-H’s highly collaborative approach through dedicated project managers. He notes that ARPA-H’s managers work closely with applicants, solving problems as if they were part of the applicant’s own company. Wang’s experience reflects an efficient process, with his company receiving funding within approximately six months from application to decision. “Expect a high touch, highly collaborative process,” stated Wang, liking it to having a ARPA-H project manager working for you, solving problems as if they belonged to your company.

Insider Tips: Advice from Industry Leaders for Successful ARPA-H Applications

Yoseph Kim, CEO of Optosurgical, offered insights during a panel discussion on applying to ARPA-H. He recommended attending ARPA-H partnering days to foster collaborations that expedite work and advised checking the ARPA-H website thoroughly before reaching out.

“Ground your proposal in tangible outcomes that you can do with the limited amount of time,” said Kim. “I think that plays on their efficiency, their flexibility as well as the tons of support they give, not just monetary but also in commercialization.”

The ARPA-H website provides information on getting started and the range of assistance it offers. According to Shen and Roos, it is also easy to understand. Once applicants have that basic understanding and feel they’re a good fit, starting the conversation is the next step. “The core thing there is that you should engage with us. You should come talk to us,” said Roos. “Come talk to the program manager.” macOS startup keys, turn off fast startup Windows 11, get startup business loan with no money, stop Spotify opening on startup Mac, HubSpot startup program, startup business, startup company, what is a startup, startup 

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