Thanks to recent legislation, a state-run technology grant program that began in 1986 has expanded its eligibility to a wider range of small businesses in Utah.
Statutory changes to the Technology Commercialization and Innovation Program (TCIP) also place new emphasis on technology that has previously secured federal funding.
Administered by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), TCIP was formerly known as the Centers of Excellence program. In its original form, TCIP was designed to speed the process of taking university-developed, cutting-edge technologies to market, thereby driving economic development and creating jobs for Utahns. Historically, the TCIP statute permitted grants only to technologies derived from Utah universities. In 2014, changes to the TCIP statute additionally permit funding small businesses that are commercializing technology developed independently of a Utah higher education institution.
New this year is an emphasis on applicants who have won federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) grants. Technologies that have successfully attracted Phase 1 SBIR-STTR funding will be given preference in the TCIP review phase.
“We’re excited about the new elements in the program, which industry pushed for during the last legislative session,” said Kevin Jessing, TCIP director and GOED Life Sciences cluster director. “TCIP is now a source of non-dilutive capital to help more companies than ever navigate the critical early stages of technology development.”
The fiscal year 2015 grant funding pool totals $1,400,000, with a typical award size anticipated to be $50,000. “The TCIP Review Panel will now favor applicants who have received federal SBIR and STTR grants,” Jessing said. “This preference is a means to assist corporate or university-based entities whose technology has been vetted on a national level. It’s a way to sustain momentum on projects that have met very high standards.”
GOED has also instituted some changes to grant size, eligibility, solicitation cycle and mentoring. These include:
Grant size will range from $25,000 and $100,000.
$200,000 is allocated for mentoring activities to support winning bids. GOED has issued a request for proposal to identify organizations to provide mentoring.
In prior TCIP rounds, grant winners were able to apply for a second round of $40,000. In the FY2015 round, prior winners may apply for grants up to $50,000.
GOED anticipates a sharp increase in the number and diversity of applications and has elected to distribute funds via one round of application submission and review vs. three separate rounds as has been done previously.
As in years past, technologies that support the growth of Utah’s key industry clusters, as defined by GOED, will be given some preference in the review process. Though not exclusive, the emphasis is on the core economic clusters of Aerospace & Defense, Life Sciences, Outdoor Products, Energy, Financial Services and Software/IT.