BARDA today announced a new type of public-private partnership, BARDA Ventures, that will realize authorities granted in the 21st Century Cures Act to utilize venture capital (VC) methods and practices. This will be the first time HHS has utilized VC practices to make investments. As part of the new program, BARDA is soliciting proposals for an existing nonprofit partner to manage an investment fund that will support breakthrough technologies and create entirely new approaches to enhance U.S. preparedness and response to 21st century health security threats, including COVID-19 and future pandemics.
Over the past 14 years, BARDA has created strong and impactful public-private partnerships with companies large and small in the life sciences, biotech and pharmaceutical industries. BARDA now is extending this approach to include partnerships with the private investment community.
BARDA Ventures, through the nonprofit partner, will establish a long-term health security fund to ensure sustained investments in disruptive technologies can better prepare the nation for any health security threat. Through this new program, BARDA seeks to build a capability to better utilize venture capital practices to stimulate innovation and promote disruptive technologies aimed at addressing gaps in pandemic response and healthcare preparedness.
Historically, the investment community has been known for quickly identifying promising technologies and bringing them to market. Utilizing these approaches will help support the current pandemic response and prepare for the next one.
As part of the recently announced agreement, the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) will be a key collaborator on BARDA Ventures. DFC has authority under the Defense Production Act and a mandate to help re-shore domestic production of strategic resources needed for the COVID-19 response. DFC will provide subject matter expertise to help advise the BARDA Ventures program, and will potentially offer additional financing options to BARDA Ventures-backed companies, subject to receiving a qualifying application.
The BARDA mission covers seven areas across the continuum of response to public health emergencies, such as pandemics, as well as chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) incidents. The pipeline of mission-congruent technologies can include those that:
- detect, recognize, and report on potential agents and threats in as close to real time as possible;
- identify and characterize known and unknown human disease threats rapidly
- prevent or reduce the spread of disease and illnesses caused by health security threats;
- implement evaluation methods to increase the speed of validation and demonstrating effectiveness and safety of technologies
- develop transformative methods, processes, and capacity to overcome constraints in the manufacturing of products;
- enhance ways to manage the supply chain and distribute health products quickly and widely to reach all communities across the United States in response to threats; and
- improve the delivery and administration of pharmaceutical products to individuals in need.
While BARDA continues to invest in solutions to these problems through our broad agency announcement and EZ-BAA in non-dilutive ways, BARDA Ventures will address gaps that exist in the response continuum, particularly technologies and approaches that could enhance the nation’s ability to prepare and respond to health security threats.
Responses to the solicitation are due by 12/8/2020 at 12:00 PM EST; for details and instructions on submitting proposals, see the BARDA Ventures Website, and visit the solicitation posting on Beta.SAM.gov.