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.

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