Waltham, MA – The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center today awarded a $500,000 Small Business Matching Grant to Firefly BioWorks. The grant will match federal small business grant funding that the company has been awarded previously. The grant represents the third round of awards issued under the Center’s Small Business Matching Grant (“SBMG”) Program, established by the Life Sciences Act of 2008. Eight companies have now received a total of $4 million in grants since the Center’s first round of awards in May of 2010.
The Center’s Small Business Matching Grant Program, launched in January 2010 as part of the state’s ten-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative, leverages federal small business grant funding that early-stage life sciences companies in the Commonwealth have received for their work in life sciences research and development, commercialization and manufacturing. Goals of the Center’s program include the creation of jobs in Massachusetts through the commercialization of products with high potential for market adoption and penetration.
To qualify for the program, companies must have received Phase II or Post-Phase II small business innovation research (“SBIR”) or small business technology transfer (“STTR”) grants from Federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (“NIH”), National Science Foundation (“NSF”), or Department of Defense (“DOD”). They also must qualify as a small business under the guidelines of the U.S Small Business Administration (“SBA”). A total of 18 companies applied for the current round of the program and the recipient was chosen through a competitive process after extensive review by the Center’s peer review panel, Scientific Advisory Board, and Board of Directors.
Firefly BioWorks, Inc. (Cambridge, MA) is introducing a high performance universal technology platform for multiplexed biomarker detection, with applications in life sciences research and diagnostics. The company’s platform enables detection of clinically relevant biomolecules with an unprecedented combination of performance, throughput and cost. Firefly products are instrument-independent: assays can be performed on standard laboratory equipment. The company’s first product was just launched and is designed to detect microRNAs, an emerging class of biomarkers that has shown great promise in the diagnosis of cancer, neurological disorders, and many other diseases.
“We are leading the world in the life sciences industry because of our growth strategy of investing in education, innovation and infrastructure,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “As we continue to strengthen our global leadership in the life sciences, I am especially proud that we are helping our small businesses grow and create jobs.”
“The Small Business Matching Grant Program is another example of the Center’s leveraging strategy,” said Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D., President & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. “Federal SBIR/STTR grants provide Massachusetts companies with funds for their research and development; our SBMG program then provides the funds that companies need to bridge to commercialization. We are pleased to add Firefly BioWorks to our portfolio, and to help them commercialize their new microRNA detection technology so that it can reach patients.”
"We are honored to receive this award and enthusiastic about deploying these funds to accelerate our commercial development,” said Davide Marini, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Firefly BioWorks. “We are developing next-generation assays to enable non-invasive, routine cancer screening and with these funds our products will reach clinical scientists and research hospitals much sooner. Our products are made in Massachusetts and we are eager to introduce innovative manufacturing methods, create jobs and contribute to strengthening Massachusetts’ leadership in this important industry. We are very grateful to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center for believing in our vision."
“Small businesses are facing challenges and gaps with access to capital, and everyone agrees that job creation and development is critical to us emerging fully from the severe recession we have all experienced,” said Robert Nelson, Massachusetts District Director for the Small Business Administration. “The Small Business Matching Grant Program (SBMG) leverages on the strengths of the Massachusetts economy and the federal funds our small businesses receive through the SBIR and STTR programs. The program not only facilitates the creation of high quality manufacturing jobs, which are so critical at this stage of the economic recovery, but also will help the Commonwealth to achieve real economic development.”
About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is a quasi-public agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts tasked with implementing the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act, a ten-year, $1 billion initiative that was signed into law in June of 2008. The Center’s mission is to create jobs in the life sciences and support vital scientific research that will improve the human condition. This work includes making financial investments in public and private institutions that are advancing life sciences research, development and commercialization as well as building ties among sectors of the Massachusetts life sciences community. For more information, visit www.masslifesciences.com.
About the SBMG Program
The Small Business Matching Grant Program is targeted at commercialization-ready life sciences companies that have received Phase II or Post Phase II small business innovation research (SBIR) or small business technology transfer (STTR) grants from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), or Department of Defense (DOD). Target applicants are emerging life sciences companies whose products are production-ready and have high potential for market adoption and penetration, are poised for rapid growth that will create jobs in the Commonwealth, and are positioned for additional financing. Companies must be a small business, as defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The Program will provide matching grants of up to $500,000 to eligible life sciences companies. The Small Business Matching Grant Program is the newest program the Center is offering to support early-stage companies. Other programs include the Life Sciences Accelerator, through which the Center provides loan financing to early-stage companies, the Internship Challenge, the Life Sciences Tax Incentive Program, and the Center’s Cooperative Research Matching Grant Program.