Small business program funding from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, helps advance research on care interventions, diagnostic tools, and therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. A new paper, published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association, describes the impact and case studies of NIA’s $280 million investment in this research over the past 11 years through more than 600 grants to over 230 small businesses in 37 states.
“Small businesses play a crucial role in research to discover effective prevention and treatment strategies for Alzheimer’s and related dementias,” said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. “This paper provides the historical context of NIA’s funding in this highly competitive area and features some of the successes made possible through our federal investment.”
NIA is the lead federal agency for Alzheimer’s and related dementias research. Alzheimer’s is a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. While it is the most common cause of dementia in older adults, it is not a normal part of aging.
Results driven investments
NIA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are congressionally mandated set-aside funding mechanisms designed to help U.S. small businesses engage in R&D that has a strong potential for commercialization. Due to recent increases in the NIH budget for Alzheimer’s and related dementias research, most of NIA’s small business investment referenced in the paper — approximately $207 million — was spent between fiscal year (FY) 2015 and FY 2019.
“The SBIR and STTR examples in this paper show how important public support is to start-up companies pursuing early-stage development of aging-related innovations and how that funding carries research forward and bridges gaps companies may face in their efforts,” said Todd Haim, Ph.D., chief of NIA’s Small Business and Training Office and co-author of the paper. “NIA small business funding is working by keeping companies financed through the early and high-risk stage of development so they can fulfill their important work of advancing Alzheimer’s and related dementias research and get interventions to patients faster.”