Fast Track to Commercial Success
ASBTDC helps small technology startups turn their passions into successful businesses
Starting a business can be an exciting moment that allows someone to share to the public their passions, ideas, and inventions. It can also be a daunting task. Not only do you have to think about the product or service you want to contribute to the public, but you have to think about the small details of running a business, such as creating business plans, conducting market research, advertising, and budgeting extensively.
Thanks to the UA Little Rock Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC), small businesses around the state have access to a wealth of information and services that can help them succeed and focus on their inventions and research.
Funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), ASBTDC is a statewide program with seven networks. They also focus their efforts in rural outreach around the state, so everyone can access the resources they need to start a business.
FAST Program for Research and Development
ASBTDC has received funding for the seventh year from the SBA Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program, which allows them to expand their services to businesses who focus on technology development and innovation. This program can assist businesses who want to receive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding. These highly competitive grants support businesses who want to participate in federal research and research and development projects that have the possibility of reaching commercialization.
Located in the College of Business on the UA Little Rock campus, ASBTDC offers extensive mentoring and training services that allow clients to receive one-on-one assistance and guidance. 87 clients total have utilized ASBTDC’s mentoring services.
Laura Fine, director of ASBTDC, describes how their organization and the FAST program is an important component to the Arkansas economy:
“Congress created our organization to help create jobs. That’s really what we’re doing. So while we do have to try to make sure that we’re serving everyone, we are focusing our services as much as we can on those businesses that we think are going to be able to generate more jobs for Arkansas. And when you’re talking about technology companies and the knowledge-based industry, those are higher paying jobs for Arkansas, which is a goal of this state.”
Workshops and Training Seminars
ASBTDC hosts a number of training sessions and workshops for clients in their program. Since 2010, 330 attendees have participated in ASBTDC’s training sessions that include introductory seminars, technology roadmapping, proposal writing workshops, and webinar presentations with guest speakers from federal agencies.
Martial Trigeaud, business consultant for ASBTDC, conducts various workshops to help technology-based entrepreneurs in Arkansas turn their ideas into businesses. One of these workshops is a “Lean Canvas” series that helps business owners define their business’ goals and objectives to help them see their customer base, key resources, partners, and projected revenue and profit.
Rebecca Norman, who is an innovation consultant, has been with ASBTDC since 2009 and spends extensive time traveling throughout the state to guide clients through the process of SBIR and STTR proposals. With a background in science and technical writing, Rebecca teaches the detailed ins and outs of writing a successful proposal.
Helping Businesses Learn About People
ASBTDC also provides extensive market research services for small businesses and startups in the state. In basic terms, market research is essentially learning about customers, competitors, and behaviors. Market research answers the basic fundamental questions that entrepreneurs ask when starting a business, such as, “Are people interested in my product or service?” “Does anyone else provide this product or service?” and “What’s the best location to place my business?”
ASBTDC has proven their value to the Arkansas economy over the years. One example is Synanomet, LLC, a small business devoted to commercializing their unique process for purifying contaminated waters using nanomaterials. Led by Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Tito Viswanathan, Synanomet utilized ASBTDC’s extensive market research services, which allowed them to win $300,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for phase II funding of their research. Only seven out of the original 25 proposals who applied for phase II funding won these awards.
For more information on the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, visit their website at asbtdc.org.
The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration through a partnership with the University of Arkansas College of Business and other institutions of higher education.