Friday, August 28, 2009

SBIR National Conference coming to Reno in November

Shrinking angel fund investments. Decreasing venture capital support. Limited family and friends savings to draw on. How is one to ramp up a start up company with innovative but unproven technologies?

Why, with SBIR of course! This year's National SBIR Conference will be held on November 2-5 in Reno, Nevada. I'm going to ask my friend Fritz Grupe, the General Conference Chairman to tell you all about it:

Each year more than $2.3 billion in grants and contracts are awarded by eleven federal agencies participating in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs.

Through these competitive programs, small businesses can receive up to $100,000 for feasibility research in Phase I and up to $750,000 for prototype development in Phase II. Some of the participating agencies provide additional financial and management assistance subsequent to Phase II.

Although the competition for this support is stiff – approximately 1 in 10 proposals are funded in Phase I, SBIR and STTR remain as the largest startup fund in the United States.

In order to compete effectively, many entrepreneurs need help in learning about this important program. How can companies find out about the priorities, the varying deadlines and the guidelines for getting into the fray?

The Nevada Small Business Development Center is hosting the 2009 National SBIR / Small Business Technology Transfer Program Conference from November 2 through 5, 2009 in Sparks, Nevada, a Reno suburb. The conference is supported by the 11 federal agencies, all of which will have representatives available to talk to innovators about their product ideas in one-on-one sessions and in general sessions.

In addition, it is expected that another 30 or more prime contractors, SBIR consultants, and other companies will be exhibiting and providing attendees with information on how to proceed.

Separate speed networking sessions enable attendees to interact with other innovative people in three areas of interest: medicine and agriculture, science and defense, and energy and the environment. This enables innovators to meet potential customers and business partners.

The conference includes numerous sessions on related topics including intellectual property protection, proposal writing hints, commercialization, business planning and other sources of funding than these two programs.

Further information on the conference is available at

The SBIR Coach will be speaking and exhibiting at this event. I'd love to see y'all there!

By the way, there are some other SBIR-related events coming up in September:
Federal Lab Consortium Open House - Sept 1-2, San Francisco, CA
NASVF National Conference, Sept 14-16, Oklahoma City, OK
Beyond Phase II - Sept 21-24, Orlando, FL

Rick Shindell published a lengthy SBIR Insider report earlier this week. See it HERE. In addition to the latest news on SBIR Reauthorization, it includes a very nice tribute to the late Senator Edward Kennedy, who was one of SBIR's earliest and greatest champions.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Whither Goest Seed Funding?

SBIR's future is uncertain. The VC industry is hunkering down and tightening the screws on their portfolio companies. They even look to SBIR's "reform" as a way to "prop up portfolio valuations".

So what is the future of seed funding? We're about find out what those who are in the forefront of the seed funding world think about that.

The National Association of Seed Venture Funds (NASVF) international conference, which brings together hundreds of the most prominent seed and angel investors with technology transfer and economic development professionals, takes place September 14-16th in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Here is a partial list of some of the world class experts that will be speaking:

-Honorable Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack, will talk about his department's big investments in research and development to improve the food industry.

-Rick G. Wade, deputy chief of staff for the US Department of Commerce, will talk about the various programs and ways his department supports entrepreneurship.

-Wendy Kennedy, founder of, Inc., will explain how to turn ideas into financial opportunities.

The SBIR Coach (a member of NASVF) is an invited speaker, and will be on a panel with Wendy Kennedy. Our topic is:

Translating Science into Business When Funding is Tight

History has proven that during times of economic stress is when we see a garden of opportunities – ideas that have the ability to transform markets – witness the Ipod, Google and Amazon during the recession of early 2000. Spotting winning ideas and business models in these uncertain times takes a disciplined, yet creative approach. Savvy investors are even more rigorous in their assessment of risk and return. But what else is needed besides a sound technology and business plan? What types of technologies are being funded at the state and federal levels? This panel will address some key issues funders should consider before they invest in a technology venture in the near future.

For information on the NASVF Conference, go HERE.

There are a whole bunch of SBIR opportunities out there at the moment:

  • USDA SBIR (due Sept 3rd)
  • NASA SBIR/STTR (due Sept 4th)
  • DOE SBIR/STTR (due Sept 4th)
  • NIH SBIR/STTR AIDS related (due Sept 7th)
  • DOD SBIR/STTR (due Sept 23rd)
  • NSF SBIR/STTR (due Nov 17th)
  • NIH SBIR/STTR (due Dec 5th)

See the details on The SBIR Gateway, including a matching service for DOD and NASA STTR partnerships.

By the way, Boeing has issued its Interest List for the current DOD SBIR and STTR rounds. If you'd like a copy, send me an email.

I had the opportunity to meet Karen Mills, the new SBA Administrator, at the SCORE National Leadership Conference in Salt Lake City this week. We were both speakers. Her message: DON'T STOP TALKING TO LEGISLATORS ABOUT SBIR!

So, keep on educating House and Senate members. SBIR reauthorization isn't over until it's over.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Need an Antidote to SBIR Malaise?

I've about had it with our Congress. This current health care turmoil has everyone in a frenzy. And it's all so familiar. Partisan politics is more important than anything else. It's OK to selectively stifle dissent. Special interests rule. Sigh.... The problem is the health care stakes are so high SBIR is fixin' to get lost in the shuffle again. I'm beginning to not care. Isn't that sad? Maybe I've got SBIR Malaise.

Yes, they'll probably arrive at some sort of SBIR Reauthorization compromise, arranged at the last minute by overworked and harried staffers, who are truly doing their best. But will what results be in the best interest of small business? Sure! And if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

So it's time to move on and talk about something useful. Deal flow that moves technology to commercialization. An antidote to the malaise.

There's an annual event called the World's Best Technologies Showcase. It's been held in Arlington, Texas since 2004. WBT2010 will be held on March 16-17, 2010. The Center for Innovation at Arlington (CIA) serves as the host organization for it now. I proudly serve as the CIA's Business Coach (can you see that quoted out of context?).

Arizona based Development Capital Networks (DCN) organizes and puts on the event. Here's what they're saying about it...

While the WBT has evolved from its beginnings in 2002 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, the mission has remained clear - the WBT is the premier event to see the world's best vetted and mentored deal flow ready for the marketplace. In the past seven years the WBTshowcase has worked with over 470 emerging companies and technologies transitioning from the lab, the university, and yes even the garage, to the marketplace. If you are ready to expose your research or technology to investors, licensees, and commercialization partners the WBT is the must attend event.

We are often asked, "What is the WBT difference?" Simple, the WBT serves as a partner on your path to commercialization. The competitive selection process is designed to give each applicant feedback on their commercialization opportunity from investors and licensees. Each selected presenter works with a two person mentor team in the weeks leading up to the event walking away with a concise 6-minute investor/licensee oriented presentation and perhaps meets a strategic partner or two along the way. The two day event provides each pre-prepped selected presenter with a forum to showcase their emerging research or company directly to investors, licensees, and strategic partners.

The WBT is not designed to showcase technology for technology's sake but to offer a path to the marketplace. The Showcase represents the best vetted emerging technology from around the globe, prepped and ready for business. There is no cost to apply and receive feedback on your commercialization opportunity from investors and licensees. Apply before September 14th and you will receive feedback on your application, which you can then resubmit before the final review by the screening panelists.

Want to learn more about the WBT? Visit or contact DCN's Event Director Amanda Radovic (; 480.477.6408).

This is a first class event with international participation. Any SBIR funded company should consider being showcased at WBT2010 for moving to commercialization.

So check it out.

SBIR isn't the only game in town. Good thing.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

DOE Announces Stimulus Funding for new SBIRs

The Department of Energy gets it. On several levels. Stimulus means creating opportunities for creating jobs. Clean Energy is currently a cool technology to support. R&D without commercialization is just, well, academic.

So, the DOE is putting a nice chunk of their ARRA Stimulus money ($8.5 million) into new Phase I SBIR and STTR projects that place an emphasis on near-term, clean energy technology commercialization. Sixty six-month Phase I projects will be funded in amounts up to $150,000.

The Funding Opportunity Number is DE-PS02-09ER09-27. (CFDA 81.049)

Here's the complete topic list (For details: technical topic descriptions)

Topic 1: Advanced Building Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Thermal Load Shifting, and Cool Roofs
a. Air Conditioning and Refrigeration in Buildings
b. Thermal Load Shifting
c. Advanced Materials for Roofing that Provides High IR Reflectivity, and is Architecturally Acceptable, Including Cool Roofs

Topic 2: Water Usage in Electric Power Production and Industrial Processes
a. Water Desalination for Use in Power Plants, Industrial Processes, etc.
b. Water Cleanup, Recycle and Reuse from Use in Power Plants, Industrial Processes, etc., Before Discharge
c. Desalination Using Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)

Topic 3: Power Plant Cooling
a. Advanced Dry or Hybrid Wet/dry Cooling Systems
b. Advanced Heat Exchangers for Super-critical Water Cycle Based Power Plants
c. Advanced Heat Exchangers for High Temperature, High Pressure Applications

Topic 4: Advanced Gas Turbines and Materials
a. Advanced Turbine Technology for IGCC Power Plants
b. High Performance Materials for Nuclear Application
c. Advanced Industrial Materials
d. Novel Modular Designs for High-efficiency Low-cost Distributed Power Applications

Topic 5: Sensors, Controls, and Wireless Networks
a. Sensors and Wireless Networks for Buildings Applications
b. Sensors and Wireless Networks for Industry Applications
c. Sensors and Wireless Networks for Nuclear Power Applications
d. Integrated Power Line Sensor Systems for the Smart Grid

Topic 6: Advanced Water Power Technology Development
a. Pumped Storage Hydropower (PSH)
b. Advanced Hydropower Systems
c. Wave and Current Energy Technologies
d. Advanced Component Designs for Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Systems (OTEC)

Topic 7: Smart Controllers for Smart Grid Applications
a. Smart Controller for Household
b. Smart Controllers for PEV
c. Smart Controller to Enable the Dispatch of Distributed Energy Generators

Topic 8: Advanced Solar Technologies
a. Hybrid Solar Energy Systems: Combination of Photovoltaic, Solar Heat, and/or Solar Cooling
b. Innovative Applications of Solar Energy for Fuels
c. Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) Systems for Distributed Applications
d. Organic Photovoltaic and Nanotech/Photonics

Topic 9: Advanced Industrial Technologies Development
a. Novel Approaches that Significantly Reduce Energy Consumption and Emissions in Cement Pyroprocessing
b. Scale-Up of Nano-Material Production
c. Novel Technologies that Utilize Waste Heat from Industrial Processes
d. Industrial Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction

Topic 10: Advanced Manufacturing Processes
a. Mitigation of Heat Losses, Fouling, and Scaling in Manufacturing Unit Operations
b. Advanced Distillation and Non-Distillation Processes
c. Advanced Dewatering

You can see the complete solicitation on the DOE SBIR website ( or on

These projects can be styled as SBIR or STTR projects. Applications are due by September 4th.

You have to use (oh goodie!) to submit the proposal so better get started NOW to get the CCR and registrations done in time.

Thanks for this opportunity, DOE! Now, how about the rest of you Agencies?