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How to Apply for the World’s Largest Fund of Grant Money: SBIR and STTR


SBIR and STTR grants are part of the U.S. government’s largest fund of $2.5 billion in grant money. But how can your innovative startup or cutting-edge business qualify for these grant funds?

Chris Rehkamp from the UMKC Innovation Center’s Tech Venture Studio and Sally Williams, technology business counselor with the Missouri Small Business Development Center at UMKC, are here to answer your questions about how you can take advantage of these grants and a few upcoming events that will help you prep to apply for these opportunities and position your grant proposal like a pro with some insider, expert knowledge.

TLDR? Make sure you check out these upcoming classes that can help you prepare to apply for an SBIR/STTR grant with an outline of your proposal:



Chris Rehkamp: What are SBIRs? What are STTRs?

Sally Williams: An SBIR is a small business innovation research grant, and an STTR is a small business technology transfer grant.

These are true grants, free and clear. There’s no payback and no equity. They are funded by the U.S. government, and the purpose is to help technology-based businesses to develop and commercialize innovative ideas and start new businesses.

And it's the largest fund of grant money in the world: $2.5 billion every year. And each grant is really lucrative. So you can get grants for $200,000 or $250,000 to start. And in the second phase, you can get grants of $1 million, $2 million or $3 million. So it's a lot of money.

Chris: Who do you think is a good fit for these opportunities?

Sally: The best fit is someone who has very leading-edge technology, so something that's new to your industry, a new solution, a paradigm shift or a change in the way of doing things. They really want high, high level technology and not just an improvement on something else and not just a basic app. It's got to be pretty sophisticated.

Chris: What resources are available to Kansas City tech entrepreneurs to pursue these SBIRs and STTRs?

Sally: First, I have to mention that Kansas and Missouri don’t get our fair share of SBIR money. When you look at our population, we don't get the same amount of money per capita as say Michigan, Illinois or California; they get a much bigger share. We want to bring some of that money here. It's the SBDC’s goal to really help entrepreneurs in Missouri, Kansas and in the Kansas City metro area and beyond get these grants because we want to help bring great technology to market.

Chris: What are some upcoming classes?

Sally: Winning Federal Research Grants: SBIR/STTR from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19 at the Missouri Small Business Development Center at UMKC.

So on April 19, we have the SBIR workshop. We’ll talk about the basics of these grants and the kinds of work you need to do to develop a proposal and how to go about it.

SBIR Boot Camp from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Thursday, April 28 and 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Friday April 29 at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation at 4801 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, Missouri.

And then on April 28 and 29, for those people who are really ready to start the proposal process and apply for a grant, we have an SBIR Boot Camp. The SBIR Boot Camp is free thanks to a special grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration. This is typically a $2,000 workshop. And we are giving scholarships at no cost to those who are ready to begin the proposal process. And in that two-day workshop, we will work through the proposal from beginning to end with a really terrific grant writer, Julie Assel, who is one of the best grant writers in Kansas City. We're going to go through, work through the proposal process. You'll end up with an outline of what your proposal needs to be so you can start writing.

Chris: What help is available outside of classes?

Sally: On an ongoing basis, SBDCs offer consulting services for those people who are wanting to investigate and then submit a proposal for an SBIR grant. So I do that here in Kansas City. We have other tech counselors across the state who can help you do that as well. We can work with you, learn more about your idea, your technology and help you find a grant solicitation that's a good fit for your tech. And then we actually help you develop that proposal.

You need a lot of information, especially in the business side. We help you pull that together, determine what that information is and write it. We also can connect you to grant writers who will help you finish that proposal, make it impressive so it can be submitted to one of the federal agencies that’s funding.

Chris: Any last thoughts for anyone thinking about pursuing an SBIR, STTR?

Sally: If you have questions, don't hesitate to contact the Missouri Small Business Development at UMKC at 816-235-6063 or send a message via the Missouri SBDC at UMKC website.

What about other help for my business?
If you want help with something else business-related or are just wondering what resources are out there for your business, just call KCSourceLink at 816-235-6500 or tell us what you need here, and we’ll craft your custom set of next steps for free and connect you with the experts in KC (like Sally Williams) who can help. There are over 230 nonprofit organizations that help entrepreneurs in our network (like the Missouri Small Business Development Center at UMKC), and we’d love to connect you to the help you need, when you need it.

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