The U.S. Small Business Administration awarded the competitive funding for specialized training, mentoring, and technical assistance for R&D-focused small businesses under the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program administered by the SBA’s Office of Innovation and Technology.
“The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center is pleased to be one of 24 recipients of SBA’s FAST grant,” said Laura Fine, state director of ASBTDC. “The SBIR/STTR program stimulates high-tech innovation and is a tremendous resource for Arkansas’s innovative entrepreneurs. We are eager to help more Arkansans, including women, minorities, and rural entrepreneurs, compete and win SBIR and STTR awards.”
FAST seeks to improve outcomes in SBIR/STTR programs for underserved communities by increasing participation from women-owned, rural-based, and socially economically disadvantaged small businesses. This year’s recipients include state and local economic development entities, Small Business Technology Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, incubators, accelerators, colleges, and universities. All entities will provide support to small businesses developing high-risk technologies.
“Our FAST partners address the unique needs of next-generation, high-tech small businesses. The program supports innovative entrepreneurs from underserved communities by helping them start and grow—a primary mission for SBA,” said SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza. “Programs like FAST are more critical than ever as the SBA is laser-focused on helping small businesses recover and once again propel the national economy forward. The SBIR and STTR funding can be the early seed capital to jumpstart companies today and make them successful in the future. Some of our nation’s leading technology firms got their start with SBIR funding, and FAST is helping expand those opportunities to other entrepreneurs.”
ASBTDC will assist university-based researchers and small tech-based companies that have not traditionally participated in SBIR/STTR programs. To encourage participation by women-owned companies, ASBTDC will offer “accelHERate” TED-style events focused on women entrepreneurs as well as general education programming on SBIR/STTR through introductory and agency-specific webinars.
ASBTDC will provide one-on-one mentoring for those who are exploring the SBIR/STTR programs or are preparing to submit proposals. Additionally, the grant will fund a multi-week accelerator program for companies that have never received SBIR/STTR funding.
The accelerator program will have two separate cohorts. The spring cohort will focus on the National Institutes of Health. In the summer, the second cohort will be for those interested in researching new technologies that advance the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s mission.
“I’m looking forward to leading our second statewide Lab2Launch Accelerator for new or previously unsuccessful Phase I SBIR/STTR applicants,” said Rebecca Todd, ASBTDC innovation specialist.
USDA is new to the accelerator program this year. “Through its SBIR program, USDA seeks to fund innovations that address any element of its broad mission to support rural America and agricultural production, increase access to safe and nutritious food, and preserve natural resources. Accelerator participants can expect to learn from one another in a small-group setting as they prepare competitive applications with ASBTDC guidance,” Todd said.