The U.S. Small Business Administration awarded the competitive funding as part of the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program. FAST’s objective is to improve outcomes for underrepresented entrepreneurs in SBA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs.
ASBTDC is one of 24 grant recipients, which include state and local economic development entities, Small Business and Technology Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers incubators, accelerators, colleges, and universities that provide support to small businesses developing and commercializing high-risk technologies.
“FAST partners support an important role in attempting to fill various gaps that R&D-focused small businesses may have to help them win SBIR/STTR awards,” Acting Administrator Christopher Pilkerton said. “They focus on the needs of next-generation high-tech firms and support them through the entire cycle from ideation to commercialization. SBIR funding is one way to do that. Additionally, a number of these awards are going to partners that are located in Opportunity Zones where job creation and investments are moving forward to revitalize communities.”
The grant will allow the center to provide consulting services to more entrepreneurs seeking funding through SBIR and STTR, said Laura Fine, state director of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center. Those services include market research and proposal writing assistance.
“We are excited to continue our FAST project,” Fine said. “The SBIR/STTR program provides critical funding to small businesses pursuing commercialization of new technologies. ASBTDC is eager to provide Arkansas’ small businesses with the education, tools, and support to win these competitive funding awards and grow their companies. Rebecca Todd and Martial Trigeaud in our center have the knowledge and experience to support Arkansas companies in navigating the SBIR/STTR proposal writing and submission process.”
ASBTDC will use the funds to provide SBIR/STTR education through one-on-one mentoring and agency-specific webinars. The center will also hold a multi-week accelerator program that will actively engage innovators in the vetting of their own ideas and preparing SBIR/STTR proposals. The accelerator is for companies who have not previously won SBIR/STTR funding and will have separate cohorts focusing on the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
To encourage participation in SBIR/STTR by companies owned by women, ASBTDC will build on the success of last year’s “accelHERate” programs with additional outreach and TED-style events focused on women entrepreneurs.
FAST provides specialized training, outreach, mentoring, and technical assistance for R&D-focused small businesses. The program provides one-year funding to organizations to execute state and regional programs that support potential SBIR applicants and awardees. The FAST award project and budget periods are for a base period of 12 months, beginning Sept. 30, 2019.
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 theUA Little Rock College of Business and other institutions of higher education. The center assists startups, existing businesses, expanding businesses, and innovation-based businesses statewide.