The money was authorized as part of the health care reform law passed in March. It targets biotech companies –- particularly those with a therapeutic and diagnostic emphasis –- that have fewer than 250 employees. Since health reform passed, clients have been calling Cooley asking for help with the application process, said Glen Sato, a partner in the firm’s Palo Alto office.
“Since that point, people have realized this is money that’s coming fairly quickly and is probably going to be parceled out on a short timeframe,” said Sato (pictured at left). He and special counsel Fred Dorey said that getting the application right the first time will be key. That’s because, based on the firm's experience with last year’s government program for companies in clean energy technologies, the competition will be steep. “We know a number of energy applications for tax credits and grants were disqualified because of simple non-compliance,” Dorey said. Added Sato: “If there are well in excess of 1,000 applications for the funds nationwide, the government will have a higher probability of disqualifying you” early for noncompliance.
The Treasury Department is expected to post guidelines for the "therapeutic discovery project" tomorrow. Only then will Dorey and Sato be able to say whether this latest government handout translates into more business for lawyers like them. “We’re a little bit hesitant to gear up for this without actual implementation guidance,” Dorey said. “Friday we’ll see the final regulations and at that point we’ll be assessing the extent and scope of work for us and other firms.”