USTAR SBIR-STTR Assistance Center – Matching Innovation With Investment
Smart people are thinking up innovative technology-based concepts every day. That’s the easy part. Securing funding to develop an idea is where it gets hard. Luckily for Utah small businesses, there’s help to make your idea more competitive.
The Federal Government’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant programs are specifically designed for small entrepreneurial technology-driven enterprises. The grants are a source of non-equity funding for emerging business to provide research and development. In total the SBIR-STTR programs offer more than $2.6 billion annually to support the development of technology by small businesses across the United States.
Vying for these funds can be an intense, complex process that is daunting for boot-strapping young companies as well as the more established technology business.
To address this need, the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR) opened the SBIR-STTR Assistance Center (SSAC) in cooperation with and located at Salt Lake Community College-Miller Campus in Sandy. The SSAC is Utah’s source for information and assistance in preparing and submitting SBIR-STTR applications.
And as Since the SSAC began in 2008, the center has helped more than 100 Utah businesses and innovators and brought more than $4.7 million to the state in federal grants. Mary Cardon, manager of the SSAC said, “The SBIR-STTR grant process is a competitive and very time consuming process. At the SSAC we try to make this process as smooth and simple as we can for small for-profit companies that have innovative technology-based ideas.”
USTAR’s SSAC application success rate is 25 percent, which is considerably higher than the 16.6 percent national average. Winning a Phase I SBIR or STTR grant to prove the feasibility and technical merit of a business concept or technology means the applying company can secure up to $150,000. With a successful Phase I, companies can move to a Phase II grant where over 2 years prototypes are developed with $1 million in non-equity position dollars.
Doug Turnquist, CEO of Thermimage, Inc., a Utah company that has developed a noninvasive, painless and less costly way to measure temperature deep within body tissue, successfully won a Phase I SBIR grant from the National Institute of Health with the help of USTAR’s SSAC.
Turquistsaid, “The experience and professionalism of the entire SBIR-STTR team can’t be understated and is a valuable resource provided by the State of Utah in support of young companies.”In addition to the SBIR and STTR programs, SSAC has been awarded two grants from the Federal and State Technology (FAST) partnership program. This program is designed to stimulate economic development among small high-technology businesses. The FAST grants places a particular emphasis on helping socially and economically disadvantaged firms compete in the SBIR-STTR programs.
“The FAST grant program is specifically geared to help states in assisting small businesses with the SBIR-STTR grant program,” Cardon said. “This program provides dollars to allow regional outreach and effectiveness. We are thrilled to have received our second award of $80,000 this year.”
For those who have questions about whether their business or technology idea or concept qualifies for a SBIR-STTR grant, the SSAC has set up an easy, interactive questionnaire and informational tutorials “Is SBIR-STTR For You?” on their website Cardon said. She encourages those interested to visit www.innovationutah.com/sbir/training to get started with the process.