The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC) at UA Little Rock is one of five small business and technology development centers in the nation selected to receive a $200,000 grant from the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program from the US Small Business Administration (SBA) to support programs for innovative, technology-driven small businesses.
The grant will allow the center to provide consulting services to more entrepreneurs in Arkansas seeking funding through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, said Laura Fine, state director of the ASBTDC.
Those services include market research, business planning advice, business modeling coaching, proposal writing assistance, and the identification of funding sources.
In addition to consulting services, the center will create new training and educational programs that will focus on the commercialization of life sciences technology, the patenting of new technology, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process.
“The special funding will enable ASBTDC to offer unique programming and events for Arkansas researchers and tech entrepreneurs,” Fine said. “We’re excited about the experts who will be leading our training events, and the new opportunities we can offer tech-based small businesses.”
The new award doubles the federal funding the center received previously from the FAST Partnership Program, Fine said. The program is designed to stimulate economic development with outreach and technical assistance to science and technology-driven small businesses, with a particular emphasis on socially and economically disadvantaged firms.
“The main goal of FAST is to provide more boots on the ground in local communities through our partner organizations to increase awareness about SBIR/STTR’s early-stage funding and level the playing field for entrepreneurs, especially those in underrepresented communities,” said John Williams, SBA director of innovation.
From 2011 to 2016, the center assisted innovation clients in obtaining 56 financial awards from federal and state sources totaling more than $10 million to further commercialization. Of these, 17 were SBIR awards totaling $5.6 million with 31 percent of awards going to women, 22 percent of awards to minorities, and 100 percent to small firms.
Training and Educational Programs
ASBTDC has invited four guest experts to lead live webinars beginning Feb. 7. Betty Royster of the National Institutes of Health SBIR/STTR will introduce the federal funding programs, while Dr. Lenka Fedorkova will go deeper into the NIH SBIR/STTR application process. Dr. Nancy Gray, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences BioVentures director, will share best practices for university researchers looking to start their own spin-off companies.
Finally, Jeff Skiba, a professional medical device and business consultant, will lead a four-part series starting Feb. 22 on navigating the FDA approval process. Skiba will identify the strategic steps to consider during new research and development to ensure a company’s processes effectively align with FDA’s approved standards.
March 2, ASBTDC will offer a full-day event at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), “Intro to SBIR: Where to Start and Tips from Winners.” The session will feature three SBIR-winning companies from Arkansas and their UAPB collaborators.
For more information, contact Rebecca Norman at (501) 683-7700 or visit the ASBTDC’s event page to register for a classroom or webinar training event: http://asbtdc.org/training/ .
The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the SBA through a partnership with the UA Little Rock College of Business and other institutions of higher education. The center assists startups, existing businesses, expanding businesses, and innovation-based businesses statewide. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.