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Gov’t offers $6.5M incentive for coronavirus research in Puerto Rico

The Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC, in Spanish) announced the start of the Acceleration of COVID-19 Treatments and Drug Development in Puerto Rico (PR-ACTD) program, which has $6.5 million available from the American Rescue Plan (ARPA), aimed at promoting the development of treatments for the coronavirus disease among island-based researchers.

“This is a great opportunity to advance research and development projects in the bioscience area, specifically in projects related to COVID-19, including the so-called ‘long COVID.’ This is just one of many efforts that are being carried out by the DDEC to continue expanding the research and development ecosystem on the island, which leads us to create Puerto Rican intellectual property and therefore internal wealth,” DDEC Secretary Manuel Cidre said about the focus of the program.

Academic and industrial researchers who apply for the program — which will be managed by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust — before May 3, may receive up to a $1 million grant to carry out diagnostic and treatment projects that may range from the laboratory research phase to the preclinical and clinical phases.

Humberto Mercader, deputy secretary of the DDEC and coordinator of the program, said that for applicants to eligible, they must “have research related to the topic of COVID-19, from a private or public university institution, nonprofit organization or private companies, such as startups. It is a requirement that the project be carried out in Puerto Rico, because its main purpose is that it be aimed at the development of Puerto Rican intellectual property.”

The maximum grant amount for academia is $250,000, while for the commercial and industrial sector, it is up to $1 million. Researchers cannot apply for the incentive in their own name because the process must be undertaken by an organization or company, he explained.

Those who qualify will first receive 50% of the approved incentive, while the rest will be obtained once the results are monitored and confirmed. The funds will only cover eligible expenses through December 2024 and the grants are expected to begin reaching recipients between July and August 2023, Mercader added.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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