Michael Weingarten, the director of the SBIR development center at the National Cancer Institute, joined the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris to explain how the program got started and why it’s so important now.
The program was set up by Congress about 25 years ago, Weingarten said, with a goal of stimulating small business to develop new technologies for projects across the government.
NCI’s grant program is specifically focused on cancer research — from new diagnostic methods to new treatments, he added.
“The whole goal is to develop new technologies that can be delivered to patients and improve cancer treatments and cancer care for patients down the road,” Weingarten said.
But why, specifically, small business?
“Small businesses are really the big generators of new jobs, but they also tend to be where innovation comes from in a lot of cases,” Weingarten said.
Weingarten said much of NCI’s funding goes to academic institutions working on cancer research. But there is also great potential in moving innovative research into small businesses as “a vehicle to help move these technologies forward and move them toward commercialization,” he added. “Ultimately, the way new types of therapies, new types of treatments make their way out to patients, is if you can commercialize them.”
The program offers grants for 12 different areas, representing “technology areas that both meet the scientific priorities of the NCI and are ripe for commercial investment and integration,” the institute said.
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-9 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, DC region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.