November 3, 2010 / 4:45 PM / 10 years ago

U.S. awards $1 billion to small biotechs

* Grants aim to boost research, support jobs

* Nearly 3,000 companies will receive funds

WASHINGTON, Nov 3 (Reuters) - The U.S. government announced $1 billion worth of small grants to small biotechnology companies to boost research and support jobs.

The grants, some of them just a few thousand dollars, will go to 2,923 companies with fewer than 250 employees in 47 states and Washington, D.C.

“With this funding, they’ll be able to hire more staff, improve facilities and move forward with research projects that might otherwise have been put on hold,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “We can’t afford to see promising discoveries discarded or innovative businesses move overseas.”

The money comes from the healthcare reform bill passed into law in March, the same bill targeted by many of the Republicans who won new seats in the U.S. Congress on Tuesday.

Most experts agree that Congress will be unable to substantially change the law, but many of the new lawmakers promised to fight funding of many of its provisions.

A list of the companies receiving grants is available here

“These grants made possible by the Affordable Care Act will not only help to create jobs and bolster the economy, but also bring us closer to the next generation of life-saving cures,” National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins said in a statement.

“The projects funded show significant potential to create new therapies that will address unmet medical needs and bolster the medical countermeasure supply we use to respond to health emergencies.”

The grants include $175,000 to Maryland-based Novavax Inc (NVAX.O) for a shingles vaccine, and two $244,000 grants to BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc (BCRX.O) for drugs to treat gout and influenza. (Reporting by Maggie Fox; editing by John Wallace)

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