The New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology (CSIT) announced Friday approving 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 new program will initially be funded with $500,000 to support businesses applying for the three-phase federal SBIR and STTR programs, which provide more than $3 billion nationally each year in early-stage funding to a variety of technology- and life sciences-focused small businesses so that they may propose ideas that meet specific research and development needs of the federal government.
The SBIR also enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and incentivizes profiting 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 nonprofit research institution.
“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 in a statement. “The SBIR/STTR support program will help New Jersey applicants overcome these challenges and maximize potential awards.”
To be eligible for both SBIR and STTR companies must be based a for-profit small business, based in the U.S., with fewer than 500 employees.
The New Jersey SBIR/STTR Support Program has two core components: technical assistance and direct grant funding.
These will serve to complement existing state programs that provide support to increase the competitiveness of New Jersey proposals, including 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 – which requires a state-level match to receive federal funding – provides federal financial assistance to local organizations for outreach, technical assistance and financial assistance initiatives that increase the number of SBIR/STTR applications. The program will also create a state SBIR/STTR one-stop website and establish an alumni advisory group for further support.
“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 chief executive officer 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 will provide $25,000 matching grants for general business operating costs to seven businesses that have received a federal Phase I SBIR/STTR award, while the second will provide $50,000 bridge funding grants to four 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 17-member Commission, which includes the Secretary of Higher Education, the Commissioner of Education, the State’s Chief Innovation Officer, and the CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, is tasked with leading the way in promoting the state as a home for academic and technological research, development and commercialization.
“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 Gov. Murphy’s vision for the State’s innovation economy,” said NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan, who also serves as a CSIT member.