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Turning Innovation Into Enterprise


U.S. SBA Awards TechConnect West Virginia $125,000 FAST Grant


TechConnect West Virginia, in partnership with the West Virginia Small Business Development Center, has been awarded a Federal and State Technology Partnership Program (FAST) grant by the U.S. Small Business Administration in the amount of $125,000 to help West Virginia research and development (R&D)-focused small businesses apply for and win federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants.  This is the second consecutive award of funding for this program.

TechConnect’s FAST grant, entitled “Bridging the Ecosystem in Science & Technology in West Virginia Program” (BEST in WV), will continue to raise awareness of the benefits of applying for the federal SBIR/STTR programs while providing financial and technical assistance to help companies and researchers do so.

“SBA’s West Virginia District Office looks forward to once again working with TechConnect West Virginia to educate entrepreneurs in the Mountain State on how SBIR/STTR can help grow their small businesses,” said SBA District Director Karen Friel.

Activities under the new grant will center around providing hands-on education for entrepreneurs and small business owners about how to apply for SBIR/STTR funding, connecting entrepreneurs with the federal and state resources available for grant applicants,  creating a mentoring network, and engaging officials with SBIR/STTR agencies for in-depth learning.

“We’re thrilled with the results we were able to accomplish under the initial FAST Grant and look forward to building on our successes so more West Virginia researchers can leverage federal and state funds to test new products and further grow the state’s technology economy,” said Anne Barth, executive director of TechConnect West Virginia. “This initiative owes its success to a variety of different organizations collaborating to move the state forward.”

Barth noted that TechConnect, in partnership with the WV Small Business Development Center, held twelve SBIR/STTR bootcamps in 2020.  Nearly 300 researchers and entrepreneurs attended these workshops, and many went on to apply for federal and state SBIR/STTR grant funding.

The multi-billion-dollar SBIR and STTR programs were developed to help small businesses engage in research and development (R&D) with a strong potential for technology commercialization. These highly competitive programs allow innovative small businesses to offset the cost of R&D while leaving them in control of their intellectual property.

Companies winning an SBIR Phase I award can receive in excess of $256,000 to test their concept.  Companies winning an SBIR Phase II award can receive more than $1.7 million to further test and commercialize their research. West Virginia, traditionally, has had a low number of applicants for these programs, which is why TechConnect pursued the FAST funding.

“West Virginia’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy and are vital to growing our economy,” said U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. “I am pleased TechConnect has received this funding to continue their great work by supporting small businesses through financial and technical assistance as our businesses apply for federal funding programs. We must invest in our businesses and entrepreneurs to help our state flourish and I will continue fighting in Washington for funding that supports our hard-working small businesses and the organizations that help them succeed.”

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito offered, “TechConnect continues to play a pivotal role in advancing small business in West Virginia and furthering economic development across our state. Their impact in West Virginia is well recognized, as this is the second consecutive year that they have received a FAST grant from the SBA. Making state and federal resources available to businesses is an important piece to grow our economy, as well as advancing support for our technological sector and encouraging innovative research. I am encouraged to see the work TechConnect is doing in the Mountain State and look forward to seeing the impact of this grant.”

Michael Graney, executive director of the West Virginia Development Office, said, “In its first year, the BEST in WV Program has greatly increased the number of research-focused companies in the state who have applied for, and in several cases received, SBIR/STTR grants.  TechConnect and the WV Small Business Development Center’s Innovation-Technology (In-Tech) Program have done exceptional work, and I’m excited for what’s to come with this new award.”

TechConnect’s BEST in WV program will commence activities in October.

For additional information, contact Anne Barth at (304) 444-2918,, or visit