MOBILE, Alabama – Mobile will host the first of several statewide grant-writing workshops March 28 to help entrepreneurs land lucrative federal funds.
The program, designed to bridge the glaring funding gap common to early-stage technology companies, has a complicated but target-specific name: the Alabama Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Assistance Program. It is an initiative of the Alabama Launchpad program, a pilot program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama intended to help tech-centered startups make the leap from proof-of-concept to the funding needed to jumpstart actual activity.
“We see an opportunity to help Alabama companies write more competitive proposals,” said Angela Wier, an EDPA vice president.
“We believe the assistance will help companies avoid many common pitfalls that cause early elimination from the process,” she said.
Specific details regarding the upcoming Mobile workshop and subsequent sessions in other cities across the state will be reported as the details become available. Immediate grant-writing assistance is available, however, for any Alabama company in the process of resubmitting a proposal.
In a prior interview with AL.com, Wier said Alabama businesses submit about 500 proposals annually for the competitive SBIR and STTR grants – both administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration – yet only about 14 percent of those applicants are successful. The national average is typically 15.7 percent, she said.
For the unacquainted, the SBIR program encourages small businesses to engage in federal research as well as research and development that has the potential for commercialization. The STTR program, meanwhile, focuses on the commercialization of high-tech research and innovation through a joint venture of small business and nonprofit research institutions.
More than 146,000 of the competitive grants totaling more than $36 billion have been awarded nationally since the program’s founding in 1983, and more than $40 million of that funding goes directly to Alabama companies each year.
Alabama Launchpad, however, is actively seeking to boost that success rate for Alabama companies through the grant-writing workshops and one-on-one writing assistance and proposal strategy to be provided by Greenwood Consulting Group Inc.
In addition, Alabama Launchpad has assembled a SBIR advisory committee for the 2014 program that includes the following technology community leaders:
- Bill Waite, chief technical officer and co-founder of AEgis Technologies, Inc. in Huntsville
- Troy Brady, licensing officer, Auburn University
- Mark Weaver, Ben May chair of Entrepreneurship and founding director of the Melton Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, University of South Alabama
- Steve Ceulemans, vice president of innovation and technology for the Birmingham Business Alliance
- Rick Swatloski, director, Office of Technology Transfer for the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa
- Dave Winwood, executive director, UAB Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and chief executive officer of the UAB Research Foundation in Birmingham
- Kannan Grant, director, Office of Technology Transfer at the University of Alabama in Huntsville
March 14, 2014