Nonprofit Biopharma Funding Hit $45 Billion In 2020

Research into therapies and vaccines related to the COVID-19 pandemic made up the overwhelming bulk of grants and collaborations with biopharma nonprofits, according to biotechnology news site BioWorld.com.

According to BioWorld’s analysis, during 2020 roughly 91% of funds for biopharma collaborations that included nonprofits, and 75% of grant money awarded, was earmarked for vaccine research or therapies to mitigate the effect of the coronavirus.

BioWorld reviewed 1,570 deals valued at $32.84 billion. Of those, 912 were biotech/nonprofit collaborations, which it valued at $19.86 billion, and 658 were grants awarded, which were valued at $12.98 billion.

Within those totals, BioWorld identified 663 deals set aside for organizations developing therapeutics or vaccines related to the coronavirus that accounted for $27.8 billion. Financial commitments to nonprofits included 421 biotech/nonprofit arrangements worth $18 billion and 242 grants worth a total of $9.75 billion.

The totals awarded for biopharma/nonprofit collaborations and grants represent a significant jump from the $7.36 billion BioWorld reported as having been made in 2019. Setting aside money allocated for COVID-19 research, there was a $5.04 billion drop in funding value from 2019, but a jump in the number of details from 857 in 2019 to 907 last year.

The U.S. government was a particularly aggressive funder. It accounted for both the three largest deals that involved nonprofits and the three largest grants given to biopharma companies. BioWorld listed $1.97 billion given to Moderna and two grants of $1.95 billion apiece awarded to BioNTech as the top three bio/nonprofit contracts.

According to BioWorld, the three largest grants given by the U.S. government to biopharma companies included $2.1 billion given to Sanofi SA, $1.6 billion for Novavax and $1.2 billion for AstraZeneca. 

The rush to fund biopharma/nonprofit deals, which accompanied the Trump administration’s public-private partnership Operation Warp Speed, might be receding. So far in 2021, BioWorld has identified 15 collaborations involving nonprofits worth $13 million, and two grants of undisclosed amounts.