Utah’s SSAC: Celebrating Five Years of Success

As the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative’s SBIR-STTR Assistance Center, observes their fifth anniversary, they are celebrating the winning of nearly $7 million in federal grants and helping propel many of Utah’s technologies and  innovations to the next level.

“Since opening in June 2008, the SSAC has met with hundreds of people, each of whom champion an amazing technology,” said Mary Cardon, director of the SSAC. “The solutions and advances we have seen certainly assure a bright future for the State of Utah.”

Located at the Salt Lake Community College’s Miller Business Resource Center, the SSAC is a statewide  resource assisting innovators and entrepreneurs to maximize their business potential through the non-dilutive federal Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.  The SBIR and STTR programs offer more than $2.7 billion dollars annually to support the development of technology by small businesses across the nation and are an excellent source of early stage capital as they have no equity participation.

“Working with the federal government to win one of these grants can be challenging if a company does not know the ropes,” said Ted McAleer, executive director of USTAR. “That is where the SSAC team is perfectly situated. They assist these companies through the SBIR and STTR program to submit and win ultimately enabling them to accelerate their development efforts.”

The multi-stage competitive process is intense and complex, and often daunting for  both the young and well established technology company. The SSAC offers a one stop, direct source for information and assistance in preparing and submitting SBIR-STTR applications and has a proven record of value and knowledge.

“The SSAC’s job is to help Utah companies navigate these waters to be assured that their proposals will be read,” said Cardon. “The center has developed best practices and tools to help innovators win these grants and move forward with their research and development.”

Their work is paying off.   Companies who work with the SSAC have a better than 25 percent win rate compared with the national average of 15 to 17 percent.

Winning companies are located from Box Elder to Payson and reflect a myriad of innovative technologies including information technology, nanotechnologies, energy technologies and medical devices. Among their reasons for success, the companies have cited their collaboration with the SSAC as one of the critical components.

Jade Therapeutics, Inc. recently won a Phase I SBIR grant from the National Science Foundation working with the SSAC. Jade is developing locally administered, sustained-release therapeutics that improve corneal healing following damage from disease or injury, reducing or eliminating vision loss and this Phase I has allowed them to begin their highly valuable research.

“Without a doubt Jade Therapeutics would not have been able to receive an SBIR award without the help and support of the SSAC,” said Barbara Wirosko, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Jade Therapeutics.

In addition to helping build understanding and facilitate the process of applying for SBIR-STTR grants, many awardees cite the SSAC and the SBIR-STTR awards as propelling their business to the next level.

“The SSAC has been really helpful to us, particularly in helping us get through the learning experience of how to file for a SBIR,” said Thomas Wolf, CEO Silicon Technologies, and a two time recipient of Phase I SBIR grants. “We would be out of business without this funding, and we have brought customers because of it. We are thrilled.”

As the SSAC looks toward the future, the center plans to continue to engage Utah’s growing entrepreneur network and partner with companies throughout the state to strengthen Utah’s innovation infrastructure. “We cannot wait to see what will come our way next. ” said Cardon, “It could be the next light bulb or a twist on an existing technology but, whatever it is, we are here to help Utah’s technologies advance and succeed.”

For more information about the SSAC visit: http://www.innovationutah.com/sbir/