CIRM boosts industry outreach efforts in 2011, more to come

Cynthia Schaffer is Contract Administrator and Compliance Officer at CIRM

As CIRM-funded teams move closer to clinical trials, we’re ramping up our engagement with the industry partners who are integral to the success of most future stem cell therapies. In my role supporting many of these endeavors I saw a significant uptick in 2011 in events and activities specifically focusing on these crucial industry groups.

For the second year in a row, CIRM organized webinars and roundtables with the FDA, industry and investigators from academia. These events focused on the challenges and/or roadblocks on the regulatory pathway to develop stem cell based therapies. Topics of these webinars included Imaging in May, Scaffolding in September and Immune Response in October.

Through our active engagement with the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM), CIRM sponsored the first ever regenerative medicine investor partnering event in November in conjunction with CONNECT and the Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa. My colleague Elona Baum, CIRM General Counsel and Vice President of Business Development, was one of the primary organizers of this event, which was attended by more than 240 regenerative medicine professionals and featured 40 company presentations and a full day of panel discussions addressing key business topics. Participants came from across the regenerative medicine sector including big pharma, investors, leaders from Europe and Asia, therapeutic and platform companies, investigators and representatives from several prominent CIRM disease teams.

As part of the update to CIRM’s Strategic Plan, CIRM held four public meetings in October, two of which specifically targeted input from the for-profit sector of the Regenerative Medicine industry. The Strategic Plan update will be presented to the board at the upcoming governing board meeting January 17 in San Diego (location and audiocast details are available here).

At CIRM’s Grantee Meeting in September, 12 vendors from various for-profit companies who serve the regenerative medicine industry were able to exhibit their wares. This program was well received and we plan to incorporate this element again at our next CIRM Grantee Meeting in 2013.

In 2011 CIRM hosted two webinars on its new Disease Team Therapy RFA to help potential applicants understand CIRM’s expectations for their proposals and budgeting materials. These webinars append the 2010 Grant Writing webinar (archived on CIRM’s website) and similar curriculum is planned for 2012.

Also this year, CIRM allocated a significant $57 million to be invested in initiatives that will make the organization more flexible in seizing funding opportunities and partnering with industry (we blogged about those initiatives here). Baum said:

“We were very pleased with the Board’s approval in December of all three components of the Opportunity Fund: Bridge Funding ($12 million), External Innovation ($15 million) and the Strategic Partnership program ($30 million). We believe the Opportunity Fund and its components will give us increased flexibility in responding to opportunities that arise in the Regenerative Medicine industry.”

In addition to resources I link to here, I would specifically like to call your attention to the materials on Resources for Researchers page.

If you want to be alerted about upcoming industry events, you can sign up to receive notifications for all upcoming meetings here.

C.S.