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Fundamentals for Startups: Funding your startup with SBIR/STTRs

Written by Debra Bouchegnies / January 29, 2019

Known as “America’s Seed Fund (TM),” the Small Business Innovation Research Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program, or SBIR and STTR respectively, are federal grants overseen by the US Small Business Administration (SBA) that help researchers at small businesses continue working towards commercialization of their innovations. These highly competitive grants are often thought of as the bridge over the “valley of death”, or the period between the end of federally funded research and early stage investment from Angel or Seed investors.

At a recent Fundamental For Startups Friday talk, Jeanette Ennis, CoMotion’s Associate Director of Innovation Investments, provided an overview of the SBIR and STTR grant programs as well as tips on successful navigation of the application process. Dr. Ennis shared why one would seek out these grants over venture capital, described the three basic phases of the programs and explained the differences between the two. For example, SBIR allows, but does not require, the involvement of a non-profit research institution, while STTR requires the involvement of a non-profit research institution.

Jeanette Ennis, Associate Director of Innovation Investment

Ennis also shared insights on project planning and how to build a competitive application. One important area to explore when getting started is customer discovery–researchers and research teams should identify who their customers are, what problem their solution solves and what value is brought to their customers. CoMotion offers training workshops and can help UW researchers, faculty and students through this process, and provides assistance in writing SBIR and STTR applications as part of a commercialization strategy.

Fundamentals for Startups Friday is one of CoMotion’s innovation training programs and is open to the public. They take place from 12:00 noon to 1:00pm on most Fridays during Autumn,Winter and Spring Quarters and can also be seen via live stream on Fridays on YouTube. You can also see previously recorded videos here. Check out our events page to learn about the next Fundamentals for Startups. To learn more about applying for SBIR/STTR grants, please check out our website or contact us.