The RI Small Business Development Center and Congressman James Langevin co-hosted the Rhode Island Innovation Forum to highlight an opportunity for Rhode Island companies to take better advantage of federal funding for innovative research and development. Through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, grants are available across eleven federal agencies to support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of research funds in critical national priorities.
Leading the discussion was Sean Greene, the SBA Associate Administrator for Investment and Special Advisor for Innovation, who stated the federal government is working to make improvements to the program, such as ease of application and quicker review, so that it is more accessible to a greater number of entrepreneurs.
The event, which took place at Johnson & Wales University’s Culinary Arts Museum, also included presentations by Mark S. Hayward, Director of the SBA Rhode Island District Office, and Christine Smith, Director of the Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council, about ways SBIR and other initiatives underway in Rhode Island can best support innovation in the state. A local SBIR award recipient, Cheryl Zimmerman, CEO of FarSounder, Inc, spoke about her successful experiences with the program.
In 2010, according to the RI Innovation Index, Rhode Island ranked 21st in the country receiving 17 awards totaling $5.5 million. This was below both the national and New England averages. “SBIR funds are much needed infusions of capital to small firms that have high potential to develop commercially valuable products,” said Smith. “The funds are highly competitive, however, and through our STAC Collaborative Research Grant program we provide small state investments that can help RI firms become more competitive for the larger federal awards.” Since inception of the grant program, four Collaborative Research Grant awardees have received follow-on SBIR grants totaling $4 million.
Among SBIR’s eligibility requirements, businesses must be organized for profit, with a place of business in the U.S. and have no more than 500 employees including affiliates. To learn more, contact Christine Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org