LaunchTN offers help in writing SBIR and STTR grants

Help is here for researchers and entrepreneurs interested in applying for an SBIR or STTR grant (Small Business Innovative Research and Small Business Technology Transfer, respectively). LaunchTN, a public-private partnership focused on supporting the development of high-growth companies in Tennessee, has revamped its program to help small businesses, entrepreneurs, and researchers write winning SBIR/STTR proposals.

“We are really trying to reach out to universities and their technology transfer offices,” said Jim Stefansic, Commercialization Director. “We find a lot of great ideas with strong market potential in universities.”

The program, initially launched around 2008, assists with Phase I, Phase II, and Fast Track funding. This year, Launch Tennessee has acquired the help of Mark Henry, a nationally renowned expert in writing, and winning, these types of grants.

“This program is not just about ‘winning’ a grant,” Stefansic said. “With Mark’s help, we are teaching inventors how to view their ideas as a business. Our hope is that even if people don’t win an SBIR or STTR grant, every inventor will walk away from our program with a solid business plan.”

Several Vanderbilt researchers, many of whom are working with our New Ventures Team to spin Vanderbilt-powered technologies into new ventures, are currently participating in the program and hoping to earn a portion of the more than $2 billion awarded each year (collectively) through the SBIR/STTR programs.

“The seminar we held in the spring was a big help for our program,” said Stefansic. “We had more people in attendance at that single seminar than almost all other seminars combined, and the interest from Vanderbilt since has been very strong.”

One piece of advice Stefansic wants to give researchers interested in exploring this avenue of funding is, “start early.”

“You want to make sure you start the process 90 days before the deadline,”Stefansic said. “If you’re approaching 60 days, it’s getting tight.”

There are several cycles during which inventors can apply, which leads to another benefit Henry provides. “Mark is really a great resource in suggesting the best agency or opportunity for individual researchers,” said Stefansic.

For those of you interested in applying, or learning more, click here to learn more.