Experts from HHS to provide insight on how to successfully compete for funding to support commercialization efforts

Oct. 16, 2017 — Entrepreneurs and researchers in the biohealth sector seeking an inside track on how to tap into the more than $920 million in grants available annually through America’s largest seed fund will have the opportunity to get expert advice at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS’s) annual SBIR/STTR Conference next month in Milwaukee.

The three-day national conference, which runs from Nov. 7-9, will give researchers and innovators at research institutes, and biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device, health care IT companies, as well as business owners or those thinking of starting a business, the opportunity to learn about Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants for research and development.

The conference is being hosted by the Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI) of Southeast Wisconsin, which is headquartered at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). About 600 people are expected to attend the 19th annual conference, which is being held in Milwaukee for the first time.

“The CTSI and Wisconsin are proud and pleased to be a destination for innovators,” said Kalpa Vithalani, licensing manager of the MCW’s Office of Technology Development and local conference chair. “We are excited to showcase our strengths and opportunities, hear the ideas of other inventors and spark productive collaborations to deliver cutting-edge health-care solutions.”

Topics covered will include: strategies for developing competitive SBIR/STTR applications; understanding grant and contract solicitations and funding opportunities; and leveraging The National Institutes of Health’s Technical Assistance Programs to support commercialization.

Conference attendees will have the valuable opportunity to meet one-on-one with SBIR/STTR program managers, network with potential partners and learn how to submit successful SBIR/STTR grants for HHS seed funding.

The goal of the program is to increase private-sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal funding. Through awards, which range from $75,000 to over $1 million, these non-dilutive funds enable small businesses to move from ideation to commercialization and stimulate high-tech innovation. Wisconsin alone has received $42 million in SBIR/STRR funding from HHS since 2012.

“One-on-one meetings, critical information sessions and networking opportunities greatly optimize the chances to secure seed funding,” said Dave Linz, client services director for the Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC), also one of the sponsors. “CTC and its clients have traveled all over the country to attend this conference, so we are thrilled to bring it close to home for tech entrepreneurs in Wisconsin and the Midwest to benefit.”

Nearly 100 experts from federal agencies including the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Administration for Community Living, the Food and Drug Administration, the Small Business Administration and the Office of Inspector General will conduct one-on-one meetings and lead presentations during the event at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center.

Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson will deliver a keynote speech at a luncheon during the conference on Nov. 8. Dr. Walter Koroshetz, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, is the HHS keynote speaker on Nov. 7.

The highly competitive SBIR/STTR programs together account for more than 150,000 awards totaling approximately $40 billion. These awards have helped U.S. innovators advance new technologies that help make the U.S. more globally competitive. The SBIR/STTR programs have provided seed funding to companies including Stratatech, Qualcomm, iRobot, Symantec and Genzyme.

Although these grants are typically thought of as being for young companies and those that haven’t even been formed yet, many established companies also may be embarking on projects that would be eligible for this type of commercialization grant.

“This is a great opportunity for Wisconsin entrepreneurs to connect with federal program managers and gain insight into how to best leverage the SBIR program to support the growth of their companies,” said Aaron Hagar, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), one of the co-sponsors of the conference. “We look forward to showcasing Wisconsin’s strengths to a national audience and to building partnerships and connections that will lead to future opportunities for our companies and communities.”