US bioinformatics funding extends to small companies

By John Dodge
Thursday, 21 February, 2002

The Biological Database and Informatics program (BD&I) at the US National Science Foundation is expanding the list of targets for $8 million in grants it is currently awarding.

"We used to be rather restrictive about who could apply. It was just universities and non-profits, but I'm open to going beyond that. There are a lot of good informatics being done at small companies," said Sylvia Spengler, program manager for BD&I.

So far, 15 grants have been made, all to colleges and universities. "We can only give away to people who submit applications. The word has to get out," Spengler said. On who can apply, "for-profit" organisations have been added.

Now in its second year, BD&I has $14 million to award this year. The remaining $6 million for this fiscal year will be awarded starting in July, Spengler added.

BD&I's mission is to encourage better approaches to the biological knowledge management. "The goal is to not only to produce new tools and databases, but to 'harden' tools that already exist so others can use them," Spengler said. "This is where the action is."

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