The grants help bridge a gap for startups by supporting activities not covered by the federal grant
For companies that secure a highly competitive federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Grant, certain activities are restricted under these federal awards. To bridge the gap, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC’s) SBIR/STTR Matching Grant Program, administered through UW Extension’s Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) as the SBIR Advance Program, provides matching funds up to $75,000. Companies can use the funds for activities like business and market development, customer validation, intellectual property work or other activities needed to accelerate product commercialization.
The SBIR Advance Program provides funds to technology-based businesses located in, or relocating to, Wisconsin that are Phase I or Phase II recipients of federal SBIR/STTR funding. In providing capital to companies whose ideas have been validated through these coveted federal awards, this program helps strengthen the state’s innovation economy and increases the success rate of technology startups that create new high-wage jobs in the state.
Since the SBIR Advance Program’s inception in 2014, success measures include financial assistance to 38 businesses (including multiple awards to some businesses in separate years), the creation of 215 jobs, and a return on investment of $33 million. In fiscal year 2017 alone, 14 new SBIR/STTR Matching Grants were awarded to Wisconsin startups, with a return on investment of more than $10 million.
According to CTC Client Services Director Dave Linz, “Businesses working through business modeling processes are more likely to be awarded an SBIR Grant. In addition, states with matching grant programs have increased success rates for the next phase of federal funding—and that can exceed $1 million.”
SBIR Advance is part of the Start-Seed-Scale (S3) initiative WEDC is leading with the help of the University of Wisconsin System and other business stakeholders throughout Wisconsin to remove barriers to high-tech commercialization. Under the S3 umbrella, WEDC and its economic development partners are implementing financial and operational assistance programs designed specifically to address Wisconsin’s business startup and seed-funding challenges.