UALR-based small business center receives $200,000 to assist innovative entrepreneurs

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC) at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock is one of five small business and technology development centers in the nation selected to receive a $200,000 grant to support programs for innovative, technology-driven small businesses.

The U.S. Small Business Administration awarded the competitive funding as part of the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program, which also gave 16 state and local economic development agencies, business development centers, colleges and universities grants of up to $125,000.

The grant will allow the center to provide consulting services to more entrepreneurs seeking funding through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, said Laura Fine, interim state director of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center.

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 approval process.

“The special funding we have received through FAST every year since 2010 enables ASBTDC to offer unique programming and events for Arkansas researchers and tech entrepreneurs,” Fine said. “Our FAST track record, coupled with our relationship with the Small Business Administration, helped us bring the national SBIR Road Tour to UALR earlier this year, and we’re excited about the new opportunities we can offer tech-based small businesses.”

The new award doubles the federal funding the center received previously from the Federal and State Technology 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, Small Business Administration 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 Small Business Innovation Research 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.

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Small Business Administration through a partnership with the UALR College of Business and other institutions of higher education. The center assists startups, existing businesses, expanding businesses, and innovation-based businesses statewide.

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