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January 29, 2013
By Claudene Wharton
Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs (SBIR/STTR) are federally funded programs that support companies pursuing innovative technologies, and together, they comprise the largest start-up fund in the country. In an effort to bring more of these grants to Nevada, the Nevada Small Business Development Center (NSBDC) and the University of Nevada, Reno College of Business will offer a two-hour workshop that will provide an overview of the two programs and tips for submitting winning proposals. The workshop is free and will be held Feb. 11 in Las Vegas and Feb. 15 in Reno.
Through the two competitive federal programs, small businesses can receive up to $150,000 for feasibility research. If this research shows promise, businesses can be awarded up to $1 million more for prototype development in a second phase of funding. In total, more than $2.3 billion in grants and contracts are awarded annually through these two programs by 11 federal agencies, such as the Department of Defense, the Department of Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health. Some of these agencies also offer additional financial and management assistance after the second phase.
Each of the agencies has specific priorities and awards the grants to encourage research and development that helps to meet those identified needs. About one in 15 proposals are funded in the first phase. Nevada can bring in more of these grants than the dozen or so the state is bringing in now, according to Fritz Grupe, professor emeritus at the University of Nevada, Reno College of Business and manager of the Small Business Innovation Research Program at the NSBDC.
"Nevada needs to go after these grants aggressively," he said. "The odds of one in 15 proposals being funded in phase one may not seem that good, but this is still better than the odds of receiving funding from angel investors or other venture capital fund groups. We know what these agencies are looking for and can help show businesses how to write proposals that will receive serious consideration, not just ones that meet the basic criteria."
In addition, the NSBDC recently received a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration enabling it to provide up to $500 to partially support travel costs for those from eligible companies who are interested in attending a national SBIR/STTR conference or workshop. The grant has also allowed the NSBDC to offer awards of up to $2,000 in support from faculty from the University of Nevada, Reno, UNLV or DRI to help companies prepare proposals. The number of travel awards and proposal-assistance awards are limited and competitive, and interested parties are encouraged to apply soon, before funds are depleted.
The Feb. 11 workshop in Las Vegas will be held 10 a.m. - noon at the NSBDC's Business Success Center located at the Urban Chamber of Commerce, 1951 Stella Lake St., Room 30. The Feb. 15 workshop in Reno will be held 1 - 3 p.m. at the University of Nevada, Reno Redfield Campus, 18600 Wedge Parkway, in Room 215 of the Nell J. Redfield Building A. For more information on the workshop, or to apply for a travel or proposal assistance award, contact Grupe at (775) 813-7407 or email@example.com. Register for the workshop at Nevada Small Business Center Calendar or 800-240-7094.