Further to last Sunday’s (May 27) editorial, “The Canadian model,” it should be noted there is another source of funding available to help spur a technology based economy. For decades the United States Small Business Administration, has administered the Small Business Innovative Research and the Small Business Technology Transfer programs. These programs continue to provide economic and market exposure support to local technology companies with innovative ideas.
SBIR’s stated mission is: “. . . to support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of Federal research funds in critical American priorities to build a strong national economy.” The critical American priorities are generated by government agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA and the Department of Energy. Those priorities are paired up with the proposals received from small research companies requiring financial support to bring their innovations to fruition. My personal experience with this process is that their mission is accomplished regularly in a highly successful manner.
According to the New River Valley web page (https://www.newrivervalleyva.org/business/research-innovation/) at least 25 southwest Virginia companies have proposed and won SBIR and STTR awards totaling over $200M dollars since Y2000. Local companies who have benefited from this program include Luna Innovations, Nuvotronics and TORC Technologies.
Last week Micro Harmonics, a Fincastle based company I am associated with, was selected by NASA JPL in Pasadena, California, for a $120,000 SBIR Phase I program for Low Loss Millimeter Wave Isolators for Cryogenic Systems. Phase I is a feasibility study. If at the end of this six month program NASA likes what they see the program will go to Phase II when about a million dollars to prove the concept will be forthcoming. A previous NASA funded SBIR program resulted in Micro Harmonics making available to the technology marketplace new innovative products. It is significant NASA recognizes a critical technology may reside in a five person company in Fincastle, Virginia, and is willing to provide funding to pursue it.
More information on SBIR and STTR programs can be found at www.sbir.gov.