RESEARCH FUNDING SOURCES
Currently the sickle cell anemia group is working on the application for VentureWell E Team Program – Stage 1: Market Validation application for $5,000 in funding and a three day workshop. At the workshop teams learn how to better describe and identify the markets they plan on implementing there innovation in. Most of the $5,000 will be used for travel expenses to the workshop however the rest can be used for research material expenses. If we receive the Stage 1 grant we can apply for the Stage 2 and eventually the Stage 3 grants that are $20,000 and $50,000 (up to). The research materials we are currently using in the lab are extremely expensive, the most expensive materials are the antibodies that are used for printing the test line. We are currently paying approximately 7 dollars to make and test each test strip. The Stage 2 and 3 grants could help fund our research tremendously and the first step in applying for those grants is to complete Stage 1.
Another possible source of funding is a research grant from the NIH, National Institute of Health. Three programs we could possibly apply to are the NIH Research Project Grant Program (R01), NIG Small Grant Program (R03), NIH Research Enhancement Award (R15). Each of these programs are for early stage projects and the grant money is to go toward the materials and resources needed to complete the research. The main part of the application is the proposed budget for the next year or two of research and the proposed research strategy.
NIH Research Project Grant Program (R01): https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/r01.htm
NIG Small Grant Program (R03): https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/r03.htm
NIH Research Enhancement Award (R15): https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/r15.htm
DISSEMINATION FUNDING SOURCES
The DEBUT grant run by VentureWell and the NIH (National Institute of Health) is for undergraduate biomedical design and innovation teams that have a working prototype that solves a healthcare problem and is ready to be tested in the field (clinical trials) or implemented. The largest grant that we could receive is $20,000 with additional funding/prize money if our device/application shows a large market potential and economic feasibility or patentability. Once we have a working prototype and lab results this would be a great grant to apply for to fund a clinical trial in Sierra Leone that would lead us into the path of implementing the device.
Another possible grant that could aid us in the dissemination process of the project is UNICEFs Innovation Fund. We could receive an investment up to $100,000 for our device that improves child development. Before we are able to apply for this grant that could again aid us in running a clinical trial we first must meet their criteria. We have to be registered as a private company and registered in a UNICEF programme country (Sierra Leone is one of them). We have to be working on open source technology solutions or willing to be open source. Similar to the DEBUT grant we must have a working prototype and promising lab results, and identify how our device has the potential to positively impact the lives of children. The application for this grant is a little bit different than others and does not require a full formally written proposal/report, instead this grant is based off of a 2 minute video that provides all of the information above.
FIVE POSSIBLE PARTNERSHIPS
- Free Healthcare Initiative Figureheads/Leaders: The FHCI is ultimately the program we see our device being funded/bought by. By creating a partnership early on and explaining to the program what we are planning/working on developing they will already know the basics about the device when we come back and start implementation (need funding). Also, by forming an early relationship with the program we will be building trust and credibility by keeping in contact with them and giving them updates on the device, its impact and its cost.
- NGOs, UN, other governments (especially the UK Department of International Development) who provide the funding to the FHCI: Along with forming a partnership with the figureheads/leaders of the FHCI we should also be talking to the funding sources of the FHCI directly. If the funding sources support our device directly the device will most likely be accepted/supported by the FHCI.
- Sierra Leone Pharmacy Board: Once we have a working device we will have to receive permission to conduct a clinical trial with the device and then the certifications to have it on the market as a medical device. Again, by forming relationships with the Pharmacy Board early on we can ask very specific questions about the application process in person and keep in contact with our connections over the phone/email if we run into problems when filling out the applications. Sickle cell anemia is very prominent in Sierra Leone and having a diagnostic device on the market would greatly benefit the society, therefore, I believe the Pharmacy Board would be willing to work with us once we are able to provide a working device.
- Hospital Figureheads (head doctors, medical directors): Our medical device will be used primarily in hospitals and clinics and will have to be administered by a nurse or a “higher” medical professional. When we are in Sierra Leone we will be interviewing the medical professionals who would be administering the device and receiving feedback on the usability of the products. We will also be interviewing the head doctors and medical directors to discuss how a large group teaching session would be planned/carried out once the device is ready to be administered. The head doctors and medical directors can also give us feedback on if they believe the device is beneficial to the system and where in the system the device would be most beneficial. As of right now we believe the device should be used to screen for sickle cell anemia at birth, however, the medical professionals in Sierra Leone may have other ideas and reasons to do screen at a different time. In short, it is important that we have a strong relationship with the administrative side of the hospitals as well as the medical professionals themselves because they will be the people ultimately informing and administering the device for the people of Sierra Leone. If they believe the device will benefit the society, the more likely they will insist people get tested when they come to them.
- Sickle Cell Disease Coalition: This coalitions mission is to amplify the voice of the sickle cell disease stakeholder community to improve outcomes for individuals with SCD. The coalition helps bridge public health organizations with research and provider organizations to deliver advances faster, more economically and more efficiently to patients suffer from SCD. This coalition would want to partner with us because we are developing a device that is inexpensive and that will allow hundreds of people to be diagnosed with SSD and ultimately be treated in a timely manner that could greatly increase their quality of life. With the backing and partnership from the SCDC we will have a connection (“a in”) to other organizations that could help us with funding, production of the device, implementation, excetera. Having the support from the SCDC will also build our credibility tremendously which will help us build connections with all the above mentioned organizations and more.