Eighty-eight companies in the Commonwealth are looking to cash in on the first round of “Accelerator” loans from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, a quasi-public agency that oversees state dollars allocated towards increasing the life sciences industry’s footprint in the Bay State.
About 40 of the applicants are medical devices or diagnostic companies; 23 are drug discovery companies and 12 are developing technology to support life science companies. The awards are expected to be announced April 29.
The center, which came online at the beginning of the year, is charged with managing nearly $1 billion in public funds spread out over the next ten years. It manages four pools of grants, loans and tax breaks designed to attract companies and grow start-ups in Massachusetts. In January, the center debuted the accelerator program, which matches grants and investments from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health. The first round closed March 6.
David Bergstein, CEO of Boston-based Zoiray Technologies Inc., an early-stage company that’s developing a multiplex immunoassay platform for clinical diagnostics, was one applicant to the program.
Zoiray recently won a Phase One SBIR grant for $168,000 from the N.I.H. But the grant imposes limitations on how the money can be spent on items such as lab equipment and legal expenses.
For example, Bergstein isn’t allowed to use the N.I.H. money for legal fees associated with protecting Zoiray’s intellectual property, such as patent filing and preparation fees.
“Those are huge costs for a start up,” Bergstein said.
Zoiray is hoping for a matching grant of $168,000 to help cover such shortcomings from the Life Sciences Center, which recently announced a second round of New Investigator grants for scientists working on life science research at Massachusetts-based institutions and universities. The deadline to apply for the two-year, $100,000 grants ends April 17.