The Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern West Virginia (Alliance) is partnering with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Marshall University’s Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI), the West Virginia Small Business Development Center and others to welcome the National SBIR Road Tour to Huntington on June 21, giving small business owners and researchers the opportunity to learn firsthand about America’s largest federal seed fund, which awards more than $2.5 billion annually. This day-long conference will be hosted on the Marshall University Huntington campus, in the Arthur Weisberg Family Applied Engineering Complex.
“Once again the Alliance is stepping to the plate to help connect federal opportunities to our southern communities,” said Alliance chairman and Marshall President Jerome A. Gilbert. “The road tour is a national event with billions of dollars available to area innovators to further research and develop their ideas and tangible solutions for our federal agencies. West Virginia deserves its fair share of this funding and we have the talent; we just need to make sure we are connecting our talent with this unbelievable opportunity.”
Through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, the federal government awards funding to assist small businesses in development of groundbreaking, high-risk technologies while taking no equity.
“I’ve worked in small business all my life, so I am familiar with the challenges of starting and maintaining your own business,” U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said. “It is so important that we provide the available resources that can help our small businesses to flourish. Small businesses are the backbone of our state and the entire nation and I have always believed that West Virginia’s small businesses are at the heart of our state and local economies. Our business owners, community leaders and citizens share a common goal – to enhance and maintain economic development in West Virginia. That’s why I’m glad the Alliance is partnering with the SBA, RCBI, Marshall University, West Virginia Small Business Development Center and others to connect small businesses with opportunities for federal funding.”
The SBIR Road Tour plays an important role in increasing engagement with entrepreneurial ecosystems across the country and building a greater network to support the creation of small businesses focusing on high-impact research. The SBIR Road Tour also advances goals of the SBIR/STTR programs, including outreach to increase participation by women and people who are socially and economically disadvantaged, as well as by small business owners who reside in underrepresented states.
“West Virginia’s small businesses already have the drive and potential to enrich our communities and grow our economy, but some still need some financial assistance. That’s where the SBIR program comes in. It provides much-needed grant funding for small business research and development,” U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito said. “I’ve been thrilled and proud to see the number of SBIR awards in West Virginia increase significantly in recent years, and I will continue working to secure funding for this incredibly important effort.”
Hosted by Marshall University, RCBI, the Marshall University Research Corporation, the Alliance and the West Virginia Small Business Development Center, the Huntington stop focuses support on entrepreneurs in next-generation research and development.
“The SBIR Road Tour will help connect small business owners, entrepreneurs and innovators with federal agencies and opportunities,” Congressman Evan Jenkins said. “This event will help West Virginia attract and retain the best talent and diversify our economy. So many resources are available from the federal government that are never used, so this Road Tour will help ensure West Virginians are making the most of the opportunities available to us. I want to thank Marshall University, Dr. Gilbert, RCBI and the Alliance for hosting this important event and look forward to seeing it pay dividends across our state.”
Program managers from at least 12 federal agencies will conduct one-on-one meetings with attendees, participate in targeted panel discussions, and share insights into how their agencies make funding decisions. Funding a wide variety of technology areas, the SBIR/STTR program supports unmanned systems, advanced materials, health, cyber security, defense and others.
The SBIR/STTR programs provide more than 4,000 new awards each year. These awards have helped U.S. innovators advance new technologies and contributed to the creation of thousands of jobs.
“The SBIR/STTR program offers competitive funding for research and development of new technologies that are critical to the needs of the federal government,” said State Director of the West Virginia Small Business Development Center Erika Bailey. “The West Virginia SBDC works with small business owners throughout the state to connect them with these types opportunities for funding. In 2017, the SBIR/STTR program awarded 10 grants worth $3.7 million in West Virginia. If your West Virginia small business is involved in scientific research or technology development, please join us at the SBIR Road Tour.”
McKinsey & Company, an American worldwide management consulting firm, noted last year in the West Virginia Forward’s findings the need for West Virginia to increase its SBIR awards. According to the findings, West Virginia receives fewer Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards than peer states.
Small technology firms, innovators, scientists or researchers seeking more information about the SBIR Road Tour should visit www.sbirroadtour.com. Register for the June 21 Huntington event at www.rcbi.org/go/sbir.
The Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern West Virginia is a joint venture among West Virginia’s 10 southern colleges and universities to better connect the educational resources and workforce training offered in Southern West Virginia to promote the region, eliminate redundancies and share best practices, improve the quality of life for area residents, create jobs, keep West Virginia’s talent pool in the state and revitalize southern communities.
The Alliance partner institutions include: Bluefield State College, BridgeValley Community and Technical College, Concord University, Marshall University, Mountwest Community & Technical College, New River Community and Technical College, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, West Virginia State University and West Virginia University Institute of Technology.