Cabinet for Economic Development
Two Kentucky companies named Tibbetts Award recipients
Unique state matching funds program assists high-tech small businesses
FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 23, 2015) – A pair of Kentucky companies have received national recognition for exemplifying the best of the federal Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer programs.
Kentucky companies to receive the 2015 Tibbetts Award are Bexion Pharmaceuticals of Covington and Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals of Lexington. The honor is presented to companies, supporting organizations, and individuals that have leveraged the SBIR/STTR investment, or helped others do so, in a way that has generated measurable value to their firm or the nation.
Kentucky’s SBIR/STTR Matching Funds program is unique because Kentucky-based companies are eligible to receive a match of all or part of federal SBIR/STTR awards.
“Both Bexion and Transposagen have demonstrated how federal SBIR/STTR and Kentucky’s SBIR/STTR Matching Funds program grants can fuel high-risk technological innovations within the health and biotechnology area to attract private capital and job creation towards economic development in the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” said Mahendra Jain, Ph.D., senior vice president of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation and a recipient of the 2006 Tibbetts Award.
Bexion Pharmaceuticals was recognized for its work to develop a cancer therapy called BXQ-350 that has demonstrated selective tumor targeting in a broad range of cancers. Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals was cited for its one-of-a-kind Footprint-Free Gene Editing (FFGE) system, which has a specialized ability to alter genes at a microscopic level and also can create a promising new way to treat a variety of cancers.
Dr. Jain, who also has the responsibility of administering the Cabinet’s SBIR/STTR Matching Funds program, said the Tibbetts Awards received by the two Kentucky companies provide an opportunity to recognize the small businesses that have stimulated innovation.
“Bexion Pharmaceuticals is developing a new molecule entity, without any evident side effects, as a possible cure for cancer; especially for Glioblastoma multiforme. The company has partnered with major drug companies and has attracted private capital,” Dr. Jain said. “Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals has developed several products and services, including genome engineering reagents, custom cell lines, stem cells and animal products with product sales and has partnered with a major drug company to create several high-skill, high-wage jobs. Thus, I had no hesitation in nominating both of our Kentucky companies for their recognition at the national level with SBA’s prestigious Tibbetts Award.”
Tibbetts Awards recognize those that have made a visible technological impact in the area of socioeconomics and represent the best of SBIR achievements. Winners are selected based on their innovation’s economic impact and how that innovation serves research and developmental needs, encourages diverse participation and increases the commercialization of federal research.
More than 100 Kentucky businesses have been awarded approximately $52 million through the SBIR/STTR Matching Funds program since its inception in 2006, as well as receiving more than $90 million in federal funding. Should any out-of-state companies decide to relocate to the Commonwealth, they too would be eligible for match funding. To date, approximately three dozen businesses have either located, or are planning to relocate, to the Commonwealth to capitalize on Kentucky’s Matching Funds program.
High-tech companies that are eligible for the federal grants can apply in two phases. Businesses in the concept or feasibility phase can apply for Phase I funding, while companies in full-scale research and development can request Phase II assistance.
The Commonwealth’s matching funds are awarded quarterly, with Phase I grants ranging up to $150,000 for one year. Phase II can reach $500,000 per year for up to two years. Kentucky is the only state currently matching Phase II awards at this level.
Since Kentucky’s program began nine years ago, the Commonwealth has moved from 42nd in the nation in federal funding received to 27th (SBIRSource.com), and businesses in the state boast a success rate of acquiring federal SBIR-STTR grants that is higher than the national average.
The Cabinet manages the Kentucky SBIR-STTR Matching Funds program, which is administered under contract by the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC). KSTC accepts applications for the program four times per year. A link to the online guidelines and application form for the Kentucky program are posted at www.ThinkKentucky.com/dci/SBIR.