Utah’s SBIR-STTR Assistance Center: Connecting Entrepreneurs to Competitive Funding

Utah entrepreneurs can nearly double their odds of winning research and development federal funding through Utah’s SBIR-STTR Assistance Center.  

Funded through the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR), the SSAC is available to all Utah small businesses with a technology focus no matter their stage of business.

Mary Cardon, director of the SSAC, with a background in entrepreneurship, business management and writing, lends strong expertise to running the center and assisting its clients. Cardon launched the SSAC in 2008 as part of USTAR’s Technology Outreach Innovation Program (TOIP).

“The SSAC assists small business owners and entrepreneurs win these very competitive grants at a much higher success rate than what is possible going through this process on their own,” said Cardon. “The national average is 14-17 percent, we are better than 25 percent.”

Located at and in partnership with Salt Lake Community College’s Miller Business Resource Center in Sandy Utah, the SSAC is a statewide resource that assists innovators and entrepreneurs in maximizing their business potential through the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. These SBIR and STTR program are congressionally mandated with the goal of strengthening the role of innovative small businesses in contributing innovation in federally funded research and development. More than $2.5 billion in grants and contracts are awarded across multiple federal agencies annually.

To date, the SSAC has assisted over 20 companies in winning over $11 million in SBIR-STTR awards, and has a cohort of more than 100 companies that have applied or are ready to apply for federal funding.

“This is federal money that takes absolutely no equity or IP from the company,” said Cardon. “Federal agencies spending more than $100 million in extramural research are mandated by Congress to set aside 2.9 percent of that money for the SBIR program while agencies with extramural budgets in excess of $1 billion set aside 0.40 percent for the STTR program.”

The goals of the SBIR and STTR program include stimulating technological innovation, meeting federal research and development needs, and increasing private sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal research and development funding. The unique feature of the STTR program is that it requires the small business to formally collaborate with a research institution, and facilitating the move of scientific and technical invention from the university and into the market.

“The best part of the SSAC is working with companies that are putting their blood, sweat and tears into technologies that will truly benefit economies and humanity,” said Cardon. “Helping them find funds that will make their R&D move forward so that enterprise, health, lives and economies are improved is an absolute privilege.”

Working with Cardon as the Center’s associate director is Linda Cabrales who brings with her business experience and writing ability and Breanne Johnson, marketing assistant, who is responsible for managing work flow and coordinating the outreach efforts of the Center.

For those seeking guidance on the this program the SSAC staff provides a free presentation on the SBIR-STTR programs on the second Wednesday of each month at noon, as well as the fourth Tuesday of each month at 5:30pm. Attendees of the one-hour SBIR 101 workshop get an overview of the federal agencies involved in soliciting and awarding grants, learn if their company and technology are applicable, how to avoid application mistakes and front-door approaches to being successful throughout the first three stages of funding. Other seminars are offered throughout the year. For more information please go to: http://www.innovationutah.com/sbir/