The Top 100 NIH-Funded Companies:
Is Biomedical Research Funding Actually a Limiting Factor?

As the race for next President heats up, it overshadowed news of the House passing a medical bill called 21st Century Cures Act with overwhelming approval. The bill includes changes in the FDA approval processes with the intent to streamline them, but articles in the NY Times and New England Journal of Medicine reveal controversy. The Wall Street Journal explains additional measures in the bill include increasing the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) budget by $8.75 billion over 5 years. As Newt Gingrich and others reason, increasing NIH’s budget and funding biomedical research can be transformative to our health.

Research funding at first sight can be seen as the limiting factor to new technologies transforming our health. While Innovatively was still in its infancy, we had already been looking into the impact of funding dollars in health. In a joint analysis with David Teten of ffVC, we showed how research and venture capital dollars are not directly related to maximizing impact on health. Here we take a look at NIH’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs that are expected to distribute $780 million in this fiscal year alone and track the impact of the top 100 companies receiving these small business funds. These funds have the specific objective of “translating promising technologies to the private sector through strategic public and private partnerships, so that life-saving innovations reach consumer markets.” The results are not as clear cut as Representative Kevin Yoder of Kansas describes in a recent congressional speech where he argues that “If we cure one of these diseases, our investment will pay for itself a thousand times over.”

These 100 companies have collected a total of $1.1 billion from NIH’s small business programs and $2.0 billion from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which includes the NIH, CDC and FDA. Not surprisingly, funding is concentrated in the leading startup ecosystems of Massachusetts, California, Maryland, and New York across 18, 13, 7 and 4 companies respectively. Of the 100 companies, 3 had been acquired and 1 shut down, leaving 96 operating for an average of 14.5 years. We dug deeper into the impact of funding and connected these companies to 1,526 journal articles, 182 clinical trials, 528 developing products, and 2,938 jobs.

Each of these signals can be tracked over time and incorporated into metrics that allow us to quickly assess and easily monitor these companies. For example, journal articles and clinical trials signal knowledge sharing and comparing that to funding, gives us a sense the learning and sharing gained per dollar. Companies averaged $651K of NIH small business funding per knowledge share. The number of products and jobs compared with time can signal growth with companies averaging a third of a product and 2 positions with each additional year. We analyzed the 100 companies and highlight top performers:

Most funded: Angion Biomedica

Angion Biomedica has received $37.4M, the highest amount most funding from NIH’s small business programs, to fund therapeutic development focused on facilitating organ recovery and regeneration. The company filed for an IPO in early 2014 but withdrew later that year. The FDA recently authorized the company to move forward with a phase 2 clinical trial of their drug BB3 in patients at risk for acute kidney injury. BB3 has already shown promise in treating delayed graft function in patients receiving kidney transplants from deceased donors.

Most efficient: New England Biolabs

While many recognize New England Biolabs for its supply of research reagents, the company is also prolific in publishing and is the most efficient company in sharing knowledge, averaging $14K in NIH small business funding per journal article.

Most effective: Transcendent Endeavors

Transcendent Endeavors, in contrast, has received the most small business funding ($22.5M) with no record of journal articles or clinical trials. Instead, they have focused on developing health tech products, including Canopy, Starling Health, Vocatta, Quessera and the Communication Genome Project. With a lean headcount, Transcendent Endeavors is the most effective in garnering NIH small business funding bringing in $3.8M per employee.

Most persistent: Sanaria

Across all signals, Sanaria ranked consistently in the top quartile. In spite of Newsweek highlighting the many challenges Sanaria faces to getting funding earlier this year, Sanaria has persevered and found an unlikely partner in Equatorial Guinea as well as oil and gas companies for $48.5M in funding.


Research funding is merely one factor in developing technologies that will ultimately transform our health. The long awaited increases in NIH research budget are worth celebrating, but there is much more work to be done to make the most of each dollar and realize the commercialization potential of the research. Our analysis looked specifically at dollars meant to bring life-changing innovations to the consumer. Although increasing NIH accountability is among the many changes proposed in the 21st Century Cures Act, little attention has been spent on tracking the results of research funding. Transparency in data with tools like NIH’s RePORT is a great first step but can be daunting and cumbersome to most. At Innovatively, we repurpose research data to make it simple and relevant for business. Our platform connects the data points to bring transparency to markets, companies and products in healthcare and life sciences. Whether you are part of a government agency or a private company, getting the information is just one step in your daily activities but can often be the most labor-intensive. Innovatively does the heavy lifting to bring metrics that have been second nature in other industries to this research-intensive space. Now, you can spend your time and effort acting instead of getting lost in the data. Chat with us at hi@innovatively.co or try our platform today!


Innovatively’s technology collects, analyzes and connects data across publications, grants, patents, clinical trials and other creative data sources to provide actionable research intelligence. Our web platform makes sense of public research data to deliver comprehensive information on markets, companies and products faster, easier and better than ever before. Learn more at Innovatively.co.


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