BEST in WV SBIR-STTR Program Building Success
For the past year, TechConnect West Virginia has led educational outreach and awareness about the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program in the state, in partnership with the West Virginia Small Business Development Center.
The SBIR-STTR program aims to stimulate technological innovation, use small business to meet federal research & development needs, foster and encourage participation by women and socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses, and increase private sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal research and development.
Eleven federal agencies participate in the SBIR-STTR program, and more than $2 billion a year is spent on SBIR-STTR. These programs are considered seed capital for early stage R&D that has commercial potential.
While West Virginia small businesses do apply for these grants, we hope to increase that number by encouraging and supporting more small businesses as they explore and learn how the program could work for them.
With support from a Federal and State Technology Partnership Program (FAST) award from the U.S. Small Business Administration, TechConnectWV and the WVSBDC launched “Bridging the Ecosystem in Science & Technology in West Virginia Program” (BEST in WV) in the fall of 2019. To learn more about the BEST in WV program, click here.
In the last year, we held 12 training bootcamps in which 302 individuals learned about the SBIR-STTR program. Nearly 200 individuals received help in writing proposals, solicitation matching and other technical assistance.
Most importantly, sixteen small businesses working with the BEST in WV program submitted SBIR-STTR Phase I applications and three small businesses submitted SBIR-STTR Phase II applications.
Interest in the SBIR-STTR program was heightened by the Legislature’s creation of an SBIR-STTR matching fund, which took effect in January of this year. This program—the West Virginia Entrepreneurship & Innovation Investment Fund—offers Phase 0 awards as well as Phase I and II matching awards, funds permitting.
A small business can apply for a Phase 0 grant of $2,500 just for successfully submitting a Phase I SBIR-STTR application. In the past year, our program saw 15 companies receive the Phase 0 award, signaling an upswing in applications from West Virginia.
“We’re very encouraged by the uptick in SBIR-STTR applications because it means more small businesses in West Virginia are learning how to tap into this early stage seed capital funding for the innovations they’re developing right here in the state,” said Anne Barth, executive director of TechConnect West Virginia.
“Building research & development capacity among our small businesses through the SBIR-STTR program is proven way to grow and scale, leading to economic growth in the state,” she added.
The BEST in WV program just kicked off a second year of programming, which will include 10 SBIR-STTR bootcamps, proposal writing workshops and a mentoring network. The bootcamps will be held from 3-5 pm on the first Thursday of the month (except in July 2021) and are free, but registration is required. To register, visit www.techconnectwv.org/events.