May 3 Seminar Explains How Small Businesses Access Fed Grants

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A whopping $300 million in federal funding is in the offing for small businesses developing innovative technologies -- and this seminar is going to teach you how to access it.

On May 3, the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center (NC SBTDC) headquartered at UNC-Chapel Hill is running an online information session on how to apply for grants through the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program.

Free of equity and debt, federally funded programs like the SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) often seem like a no-brainer for early-stage startups. But like most government programs, observers say, preparing applications for these awards can be long and tedious, especially for fledgling entrepreneurs already consumed with growing their businesses.

Those who register for the 90-minute seminar will introduce attendees to NSF SBIR/STTR programs, the research and development topics of interest, pitch and proposal submission tips, and the proposal review process.  It will also include a panel of several successful NSF SBIR/STTR awardees who will discuss their experience and offer insights on the process. Featured among them will be Murali Nair, Ph.D., program manager for the NSF SBIR/STTR Program; Ingateygen President Hortense Dodo, Ph.D. (Elizabeth City); and Qatch Technologies CEO and founder  Zehra Parlak, Ph.D. (Durham).

John Ujvari, SBIR/STTR program specialist, has said that SBIR/STTR programs have become more competitive over the past several years. “Phase 1 award rates are approximately 15%.  Oftentimes a first-time submission is not funded, but persistence is the key,” he said.

Last year, 22 North Carolina small businesses were awarded $7 million in total funding from the NSF SBIR/STTR program, he said. The NC SBTDC is headquartered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Separately, there’s also an attractive state grant program recently announced by the One North Carolina Small Business Program, a key source of capital for emerging technology companies, administered by the North Carolina Department of Commerce on behalf of the North Carolina Board of Science, Technology & Innovation (BSTI).

For the first time since 2009, the state will not only match awarded federal grants but will now help fund companies' efforts to prepare and submit initial SBIR or STTR proposals to the federal government.

"Innovative companies can take root in every corner of our state, and today's enhancements to the One North Carolina Small Business Program will diversify and extend opportunities for our state's tech-oriented small businesses, wherever they're located," said North Carolina Secretary of Commerce Machelle Baker Sanders. "For eligible companies based in more economically distressed areas, larger awards or relaxed eligibility restrictions will open the door for more people to grow their companies in North Carolina."

Chantal Allam, NCBiotech Writer
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