Technology entrepreneurs know obtaining early-stage risk capital is critical to their survival, but not all know about federal grants available through the Small Business Innovation Research program.
The New Jersey Small Business Development Centers and EisnerAmper LLP are arranging a grant proposal writing seminar to fix that. The event is scheduled 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26 at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority Commercialization Center on Route 1 in North Brunswick.
Randy Harmon, technology commercialization consultant for NJSBDC, says the SBIR program targets $2 billion annually to small science and technology-oriented businesses. If scientists and engineers are not making their pitch, their firms lose out on research and development grants, forfeiting a jumpstart to their business.
"This is the closest thing to an entrepreneur's holy grail of free money," Harmon said. "This is the best source of risk capital for developing a promising, but new and risky technology."
The event is designed to help participants identify grant opportunities that fit their technologies and competencies. Because collaborations with academic or nonprofit research organizations can strengthen the perception of a proposal among grant reviewers, representatives of Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology will speak about potential partnerships with their faculty and research programs.
Harmon said first-phase SBIR grants, where the business owner has to demonstrate feasibility of their concept, can total $150,000. Subsequent rounds of grants can reach $1 million. Harmony said odds of obtaining a Phase 1 grant range between 10 and 20 percent, with percentages increasing in later rounds.
"From the perspective of any entrepreneur, who is a risk taker, those are pretty good odds," Harmon said.
Registration for the event costs $55 in advance and $70 if registered by 1 p.m. Nov. 25. For more information, visit njsbdc.com/sbir.