ASBTDC Awarded $125,000 FAST Grant to Provide Services for Arkansas’s Entrepreneurs

Tania Martinez Chavez, a member of the Arkansas Business Navigator Project team at ASBTDC, is helping small businesses address and overcome some of the systemic challenges that face entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities.

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC) at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has received a $125,000 grant to assist companies pursuing federal Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) grants and contracts.

The U.S Small Business Administration awarded more than $5.4 million in funding to ASBTDC and 43 other recipients across the country through the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program. FAST provides small businesses and startups, particularly those in underserved communities, with specialized training, mentoring, and technical assistance for research and development

“When we enable equitable access to federal research funding, we empower more of our nation’s entrepreneurs and scientists to translate their cutting-edge ideas into commercial enterprises,” said Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration. “This is why doubling our funding of FAST grants and expanding the network of awardees is so critical to building a stronger and more inclusive innovation economy that invests in all of our communities.”

The FAST grant funding will continue to support ASBTDC training, mentoring, and technical assistance for innovation-based companies, particularly those in underserved communities. The center plans several activities to help Arkansas companies pursue and win SBIR/STTR early-stage seed funding, including:

·   Agency-specific webinars

·   Virtual SBIR/STTR accelerators, such as the SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab with the Four-State FAST Collaborative and Lab2Launch

·   STTR proposal development assistance for researchers in the Arkansas NSF EPSCoR Data Analytics that are Robust and Trusted (DART) program

“Arkansans are engaged in exciting scientific research and technological innovation, and the FAST funding helps ASBTDC provide a robust set of services to support commercialization, particularly through America’s Seed Fund, SBIR/STTR,” ASBTDC State Director Laura Fine said. “The federal SBIR and STTR programs are among the most viable options for an Arkansas entrepreneur to advance an innovation toward the commercial market. Since 2018, we have assisted clients with obtaining 54 SBIR/STTR awards worth over $22 million. Over the next year, we will be working to increase the number of SBIR/STTR proposal submissions by and awards to Arkansas companies.”

This year’s expansion of the FAST program created 12 additional awards and expanded the program’s footprint to 43 states and one U.S. territory. The expanded reach of the program builds on the success of previous FAST cohorts. With $4 million in funding in fiscal year 2021, FAST helped small businesses to win over $88 million in SBIR and STTR awards, a 22:1 return for every taxpayer dollar spent.

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