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Lessons and Connections from 2021 National SBIR Week - Recordings Available
The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 2021 National SBIR Week united thousands of innovators, local ecosystem builders, and Federal decision makers for five days dedicated to the country’s largest source of early stage funding – the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs. Also known as America’s Seed Fund, the SBIR/STTR programs provide over $4 billion in annual seed funding to small businesses to advance research and development (R&D). As the first-ever national iteration of the SBIR Road Tours, which between 2015 and 2019 visited every state and Puerto Rico, the week presented a range of virtual, interactive events to engage with entrepreneurs and promote inclusive innovation. Each day featured activities such as presentations by SBA staff and agency program managers, panels on trending topics, agency roundtables, and one-on-one meetings between small businesses and agency program managers.
This year, National SBIR Week highlighted three panels to directly support innovators at all stages of expertise. The “Getting Started with SBIR/STTR” panel provided newcomers with the resources and information needed to determine if SBIR/STTR are the right programs for their small businesses; in addition, panelists introduced the next steps for entrepreneurs wishing to tap into America’s Seed Fund. For small businesses further down their SBIR/STTR journeys, the “Inside the Head of an Evaluator: Common Mistakes” panel ignited discussions from the perspectives of Federal agency program managers who help administer over 7,000 annual awards. Panelists provided application tips and demystified common misconceptions about the SBIR/STTR programs by explaining how agencies review applications and resources to support first-time applicants. Finally, the “Phase II and Beyond” panel provided guidance to innovators looking to make a successful transition from Phase I to Phases II and III. Federal agency leaders gave advice for small businesses to leverage resources beyond the government and strengthen their technical and commercial experiences before transitioning.
To celebrate 39 years of innovation, the SBA Office of Innovation & Technology held an interactive “Happy Birthday SBIR: Seeding America’s Future” panel that engaged audience members on the past, present, and future of SBIR/STTR; SBA leaders and audience members alike share a vision for innovation that not only fosters our nation’s economic prosperity but also reverberates diversity in STEM and business. Additionally, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) presented on resources to help small business owners protect their intellectual property.
In collaboration with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), and Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC), the National SBIR Week also featured the InVision Tour to empower minority entrepreneurs. With opening remarks from Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves, the InVision Tour connected a diverse audience with opportunities and support to help underrepresented individuals kickstart their small businesses. To provide unique insight into how minority entrepreneurs have used SBIR/STTR to transform ideas into innovation, a “Success Stories” panel featuring Dr. Yared Alemu of TQIntelligence, Eric Adolphe of Forward Edge-AI, and Paige Peters of Rapid Radicals Technology uncovered how to navigate through the world of entrepreneurship through persistence, patience, and partnerships. Dr. Alex Thomé, Director of Research Development with the MSI STEM Research and Development Consortium (MSRDC), shared how they connect small businesses with the expertise and resources at the Nation’s Minority Serving Institutions, and their newly launched partnership with NASA.
Beyond high-level events, National SBIR Week connected small businesses with Federal agency representatives. These opportunities included over one thousand scheduled one-on-one meetings and agency roundtables with nearly five hundred cumulative attendees that give innovators the chance to ask specific agencies questions related to America’s Seed Fund.
Missed the 2021 National SBIR Week? Looking for next steps after the events? Visit these resources for more information:
- Presentations and recordings for each event
- Topics and past awards to see who might fund your small business
- Agency pitch videos
- Agency websites & applicant resources
- Tutorials on a range of SBIR/STTR topics