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Turning Innovation Into Enterprise


2015 SBIR Road Tour Visits Fairmont

Group Shot on May 14The 2015 SBIR Road Tour stopped in Fairmont on May 14, providing information about technology funding opportunities for West Virginia entrepreneurs and small businesses through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

More than 90 individuals turned out to hear directly from SBIR program managers and former recipients, while also taking part in one-on-one sessions to identify potential opportunities in what has been called “America’s Largest Seed Fund.”  In addition, a panel of representatives discussed what resources exist in the state to help in the preparation and writing of SBIR applications.

The highly competitive SBIR program encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research and Research and Development that has the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization.

Mike-Success-Panel“By reserving a specific percentage of federal R&D funds for smaller firms, the SBIR/STTR programs encourage domestic small businesses to engage in high-growth priorities and build a strong national economy,” said Anne Barth, Executive Director of TechConnect West Virginia.

“SBIR recipients have created breakthroughs in nanotechnology, robotics, mobile communications, genetic therapies, clean energy and space, and more,” she noted.

Federal Program Managers representing 10 agencies and divisions shared information with attendees about technology funding opportunities that can help businesses launch and grow, including the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, NASA, NOAA, the National Science Foundation, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Commerce U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Homeland Security and Energy.

Brian Joseph, President & CEO of Touchstone Research Laboratory in Triadephia, has successfully applied for many SBIR awards.  He shared his advice and insights with the group, noting that it’s wise to find a partner on the first SBIR application, and that the process does get easier.

“Sometimes you can create your customers in the process” of applying for an SBIR, he said.

Successful SBIR receipient Dr. Marjorie Darrah, CEO of eTouch Sciences, said “Don’t quit your day job to write SBIR applications.  It’s important to have several things going at once,” she noted.

All of the SBIR recipients noted that the funding is very helpful, but winning also offers a level of validation for one’s technology.

Mike Masterman, CEO of Extreme Endeavors of Barbour County, said that once he won a Phase I SBIR Award from the National Institutes of Health, he was viewed as a “valid contender.”

Vic Baker, CEO of Intelligent Simulations, called the SBIR award a “badge of honor.”

The SBIR Road Tour in West Virginia was supported by TechConnect and a host of organizations working to increase the participation level of West Virginia firms and entrepreneurs in the SBIR program, including SBA, the WV High Technology Foundation/INNOVA, the WV Small Business Development Center, WV Score, the WV Regional Technology Park, the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing, the Chemical Alliance Zone, and the Charleston Area Alliance.

Media coverage included the Fairmont Times-West Virginian and the Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram.