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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


BARDA Ventures: A New Approach to Partnership

Author: Sandeep Patel, Ph.D, BARDA DRIVe Director, and Justin Yang, MBA, Catalyst Office Director
Published Date: 11/19/2020 1:08:00 PM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Observances; National Health Security;

How can we make sure our country has the vaccines, therapeutic treatments, diagnostics and other technology that are needed to save lives in a public health emergency? Part of the answer is encouraging innovators and entrepreneurs to partner with the federal government, and doing so requires rethinking the typical government approach to research, development and acquisition. Over the last decade, the success of HHS, ASPR, and BARDA has been to partner with the most innovative, fearless, and best partners in industry. These partnerships have helped push preparedness efforts farther along.

As part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, BARDA continually invests in advanced stages of development to bring forward critical technology and products to protect Americans’ health security. To date, BARDA’s support for product development has resulted in 56 FDA approvals, clearances, and licensures for critical countermeasures such as vaccines, point-of-care diagnostics, and lifesaving therapeutic drugs. We’ve established novel public-private partnerships with companies of all sizes and experience levels, from global pharmaceutical giants to innovative startups, to accelerate the development of medical countermeasures to save lives.

The foundation of these collaborations vary from traditional contracts to flexible agreements under Other Transaction Authority to allow us to transition immediately from long-standing health security threats to address immediate threats like COVID-19. While BARDA holds a unique role as the only part of the federal government dedicated to advanced stages of development for medical countermeasures the American people need in public health emergencies, we realized that to combat a unknown and ever-evolving threats, we needed a stronger pipeline of transformative technologies and products.

In 2016 we founded CARB-X, now the world’s largest public-private partnership to accelerate new countermeasures to combat antimicrobial resistant infections, which has now supported 45 novel technologies with seven graduating into advanced stages of development or regulatory approval. In 2018, we stood up DRIVe, the Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures (DRIVe) dedicated to improving health security and enhancing our preparedness posture by specifically investing in potentially breakthrough technologies and capabilities to address systemic challenges across all health security threats, such as early notification of illness before symptoms occur, solutions for sepsis, and other disruptive innovations.

In this short time, DRIVe has partnered with 13 accelerators across the country to better source innovation across America. BARDA’s objective, to move strategically and quickly on acquisition and management activities, has fueled DRIVe’s success and resulted in 41 new public-private partnerships.

BARDA Ventures is our next step to bring medical countermeasure development up to the speed of innovation. To do so, BARDA Ventures will engage the private sector by seeking matching investments from non-governmental sources and thus multiply the impact of taxpayer dollars provided by the U.S. government.

DRIVe built a robust team of biotech, investment, and health security experts who thoroughly examined every aspect of venture capital industry practices. Our approach is based on hundreds of conversations with leading venture capital experts and through responses to two requests for information and culminated in an announcement for a non-profit fund manager with which we can partner to carry out venture capital style investments that support medical countermeasure development to help the United States prepare and respond better to future health security threats.

We ask all interested parties from the venture and investment community to join us and help identify, nurture, and commercialize transformative technologies with the required speed and flexibility that traditional government funding is not designed to do. Immediately, we are looking for a managing partner to help us transform the American health security landscape through equity-based investing. That partner would be an existing nonprofit entity with a demonstrated track record of successful healthcare and life science related venture capital investments that can establish and manage a private-public partnership with us. Learn more on the BARDA Ventures website.


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