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April 1, 2009
By Claudene Wharton
Even in these tough economic times, there are still funds available for entrepreneurs and owners of small businesses who have innovative solutions that may help protect the environment or fulfill some of the country’s transportation needs. The Nevada Small Business Development Center at the University of Nevada, Reno is hosting a workshop, 8 a.m. – 12:15 p.m., April 8 at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks to provide information on the the federal government’s Small Business Innovative Research Program, which awards about $2 billion for these and other research and development purposes each year.
The program is administered by 10 federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation. It awards individual grants of at least $100,000 to entrepreneurs with innovative ideas in manufacturing, nanotechnology, green building, drinking water and water monitoring, water infrastructure, air pollution, biofuels and vehicle emissions reduction, waste management and monitoring, and homeland security. Technologies that support the needs of the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration are also considered.
“Many businesses restrict their thinking to venture capital firms or angel funds, if they need money to jump-start their business,” said Fritz Grupe of the Nevada Small Business Development Center. “They are often unaware of this program that is far and away the most significant source of funding for start-up and emerging high-tech businesses.”
The April 8 workshop will provide information on specific areas of innovation that the program funds, as well as proposal-writing tips. There will also be time for questions and answers, as well as 10-minute, one-on-one sessions with James Gallup, manager of the program for the EPA. Businesses that have received grants from the EPA and NASA will also discuss their experiences.
Grupe said that nearly a third of the grant recipients annually are first-time winners, and more than 40 percent of the funds are awarded to companies with 10 or fewer employees. Much of the money goes to companies with just a couple of employees.
“This program is a great way for companies to develop ‘dual-use’ technologies,” said Owen Hughes of Eon, a Davis, Calif., corporation that has received funds from the program. “A company can meet the government’s needs and also develop a product that can be sold in the open marketplace.”
Individuals can preregister for the workshop by calling the Nevada Small Business Development Center at (775) 784-1717; online registration is available at nsbdc.org. The registration fee is $25. Participants should call Grupe, (775) 813-7407, to schedule a one-on-one session with Gallup at the workshop.