Small Business

Commission to Provide Assistance to NJ Small Businesses Seeking Federal SBIR/STTR Funding

Program Designed to Increase Competitiveness of New Jersey SBIR/STTR Proposals

The New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology (CSIT) has announced approval of the creation of a new program to provide technical and financial support to Garden State companies pursuing federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) funding. The newly-conceived program will be initially capitalized with $500,000 to support companies applying for the federal SBIR and STTR programs, which provide more than $3 billion nationally in early-stage funding to small businesses each year in a variety of technology and life sciences areas.

“While the benefits of winning SBIR/STTR grants are clear, small businesses often face challenges in drafting and submitting competitive proposals or leveraging additional financial resources to maintain operations during the application process,” CSIT Chairman Gunjan Doshi said. “The SBIR/STTR support program will help New Jersey applicants overcome these challenges and maximize potential awards.”

The highly-competitive, three-phase federal SBIR and STTR grant programs provide qualified small businesses opportunities to propose innovative ideas that meet specific research and development (R&D) needs of the federal government. The SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization. The STTR program funds cooperative R&D partnerships between a small business and a research institution such as a university, federal R&D center, or a non-profit research institution. Eligibility requirements for both SBIR and STTR include that a company must be a U.S.-based, for-profit small business with fewer than 500 employees.

“New Jersey’s legacy of innovation, vast scientific talent pool, and network of renowned research universities are among its many competitive assets,” said New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) CEO Tim Sullivan, who also serves as a CSIT member. “The new SBIR/STTR program’s focus on maximizing the benefits of federal resources by supporting collaboration between startup companies and academic institutions represents a significant step toward Governor Murphy’s vision for the State’s innovation economy.”

The New Jersey SBIR/STTR Support Program has two core components, technical assistance and direct grant funding, that will serve as a complement to existing State programs that provide support to increase competitiveness of New Jersey SBIR/STTR proposals. This includes a SBIR/STTR training seminar sponsored by the Small Business Development Center (NJSBDC) Technology Commercialization Program. The program offers technical assistance in proposal preparation, specialized reviews, and critiques of draft proposals with specific suggestions on how to be competitive in winning grant awards.

Through the first component, the CSIT will select and provide up to $125,000 of matching grant funding to one New Jersey technical assistance provider per year that is applying to the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Grant Program. The FAST Program provides federal financial assistance to local organizations for outreach, technical assistance, and financial assistance initiatives that increase the number of SBIR/STTR applications. The FAST Program requires a State-level match to receive any federal funding. The program will also create a State SBIR/STTR one-stop website and establish a SBIR/STTR Alumni Advisory Group, both aimed at providing additional support to NJ businesses that are applying to the federal SBIR/STTR Programs.

“The technical support component of the New Jersey SBIR/STTR Program will help entrepreneurs applying for SBIR/STTR resources present a more compelling and polished case for their companies and ultimately secure funding that will better position them for growth,” said Debbie Hart, president and CEO of BioNJ, and a CSIT member.

The second component will offer $375,000 in matching grants to New Jersey small businesses in two stages of the federal SBIR/STTR programs. The first would be to provide $25,000 matching grants for general business operating costs to seven businesses that have received a federal Phase I SBIR/STTR award. The second will provide $50,000 bridge funding grants to four NJ small businesses that have successfully completed Phase I and have applied for Phase II of the federal SBIR/STTR program. These funds can be utilized to maintain project activities and cover general operating costs.

In August 2018, Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation re-establishing the former New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology as the New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology. The Commission is tasked with leading the way in promoting the state as a home for academic and technological research, development, and commercialization. The Commission is comprised of 17 members including the Secretary of Higher Education; the Commissioner of Education; the State’s Chief Innovation Officer; and the CEO of the NJEDA.

“This creative approach to supporting young, innovative New Jersey companies is the result of effective collaboration between the scientific, academic, private sector, and legislative communities,” said Senator Paul Sarlo, the sponsor of the legislation that re-established and renamed the New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation, and Technology, and now a Commission member. “New Jersey has a formidable track record in innovation and the Commission is here to ensure that we make the most of every opportunity to cement our leadership position.”

In addition to Senator Sarlo, Senator Robert Singer, Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips, and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, a physicist who chairs the Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, are all members of the bi-partisan Commission.

“As a scientist and active member of New Jersey’s energy innovation community, I understand how vital early-stage capital is for companies working toward commercialization,” Zwicker said. “And as a legislator, I hear from companies within my district about the need for both technical and financial support as they vie for federal funds. Through the New Jersey SBIR/STTR Support Program, we are providing another tool for state’s researchers, scientists and entrepreneurs to use as they compete on the national, and ultimately global, stage.”

Applications for the program will become available early this winter.

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