Did you know that nearly half (46%) of Ohio’s workforce is employed by small business enterprises? According to the Small Business Administration, Ohio is home to 927,691 small businesses, roughly 80% of all business in Ohio.
In 2018 I will be working with other Extension professionals from across the United States to bring the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programming – coaching and support – to Ohio. I will be learning about the intricacies of the program and will be disseminating that information to each of our county offices. The ultimate goal: to attract and support Ohio’s entrepreneurs via SBIR funding.
The mission of the SBIR program is to support scientific excellence and technological innovation through investment of Federal research funds in key U.S. technologies. The ultimate goal is to support a strong economy through small business innovation and application. SBIR is a highly competitive program that encourages small businesses to engage in federal research and research and development efforts with potential for commercialization.
SBIR specifically targets entrepreneurs, innovators, idea guys and gals, because this group is where most innovation and innovators thrive. The problem for this population historically has been the expense of conducting research and development. Many are boot strapping or funding their projects and start-ups. To combat this challenge, funds have been earmarked for these innovators and are distributed to qualified candidates through the competitive approval process.
The SBIR program blends four goals:
- nurturing technological innovation
- meeting federal research and development needs
- extending special attention to under-represented groups (women, socially or economically disadvantaged individuals)
- and driving private sector commercialization.
In short, the SBIR program offers an “incubator” of sorts that begins with innovation and ends with commercialization.
Annually, SBIR recognizes success stories from their alumna companies. I reviewed the list of those recognized by SBIR in 2015 and 2016. Of those 23 recognized by SBIR in 2015, only one was located in Ohio (Frontier Technology Inc.). And none were from Ohio in 2016. During 2015 and 2016 only 20 states had any companies recognized through SBIR for their work. But SBIR funding is available! Perhaps entrepreneurs are not aware?! It is my goal to present the SBIR challenge/opportunity throughout the state of Ohio and encourage would-be techies to give it a shot. Look for the date of the upcoming training, coming soon and plan to join us!
Here are two examples of the types of companies that received SBIR program funds:
- http://www.tissuetech.com (regenerative medicine)
- https://behaviorimaging.com/ (health assessment technology for autism and more)
Kyle White is an Extension educator, Medina County.