NJCSIT to provide assistance to small businesses seeking federal SBIR/STTR funds

The New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology announced Friday it has approved the launch of a new program to provide technical and financial support to New Jersey small businesses pursuing federal SBIR and STTR funding.

The program will initially start with $500,000 to support companies applying to the federal Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Program programs, which provide more than $3 million nationally in early-stage funding to small businesses.

“While the benefits of winning SBIR/STTR grants are clear, small businesses often face challenges in drafting and submitting competitive proposals or leveraging additional financial resources to maintain operations during the application process,” Gunjan Doshi, chairman, CSIT, said. “The SBIR/STTR support program will help New Jersey applicants overcome these challenges and maximize potential awards.”

The SBIR/STTR grant programs are dispersed in three phases and provide small businesses the chance to propose ideas on research and development for the government.

The SBIR allows for companies to explore their technological potential and provides incentives to profit from that. The STTR program funds R&D partnerships between a small business and a research institution (such as a university).

To be eligible for either program, companies must be a U.S.-based, for-profit small business with fewer than 500 employees.

“New Jersey’s legacy of innovation, vast scientific talent pool, and network of renowned research universities are among its many competitive assets,” Tim Sullivan, CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, who also serves as a CSIT member, said. “The new SBIR/STTR program’s focus on maximizing the benefits of federal resources by supporting collaboration between startup companies and academic institutions represents a significant step toward Gov. (Phil) Murphy’s vision for the state’s innovation economy.”

The New Jersey SBIR/STTR Support Program has two components, technical assistance and direct grant funding.

Through the first component, the CSIT will select and provide up to $125,000 of matching grant funds to a New Jersey technical assistance provider that applied to the Federal and State Technology Grant Program. The CSIT will also create a state SBIR/STTR website and establish a SBIR/STTR Alumni Advisory Group, both aimed to help support businesses that are applying to the federal SBIR/STTR programs.

“The technical support component of the New Jersey SBIR/STTR Program will help entrepreneurs applying for SBIR/STTR resources present a more compelling and polished case for their companies and ultimately secure funding that will better position them for growth,” Debbie Hart, CEO and president of BioNJ, and a CSIT member, said.

The second component will offer $375,000 worth of matching grants to New Jersey small businesses in two stages of the federal SBIR/STTR programs. The first stage provides $25,000 in matching grants to seven businesses that have received a federal Phase I SBIR/STTR award for their general operating costs. The second stage provides $50,000 in bridge funding grants to four New Jersey small businesses that have completed Phase I and have applied to Phase II.

“As a scientist and active member of New Jersey’s energy innovation community, I understand how vital early-stage capital is for companies working toward commercialization,” Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-Monmouth Junction), who is a member of the commission, said. “And as a legislator, I hear from companies within my district about the need for both technical and financial support as they vie for federal funds. Through the New Jersey SBIR/STTR Support Program, we are providing another tool for state’s researchers, scientists and entrepreneurs to use as they compete on the national, and ultimately global, stage.”

Applications for the program will be open in early winter.