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March 05, 2017 | Tom Ballard

Entrepreneurs to share “SBIR success secrets” at April 4 event in Knoxville

SBIRBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

The goal of an April 4 workshop for entrepreneurs and researchers is to share some of the secrets that have allowed several Knoxville area executives to successfully secure federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR).

“It is time to ramp-up the conversation about this funding opportunity,” Shawn Carson says. The long-time player in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem now has roles with the three sponsoring organizations – the University of Tennessee’s Research Foundation (UTRF) and Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation as well as Three Roots Capital.

The 90-minute workshop, targeted at the UT community but open to anyone, will be from 4 to 5:30 p.m. April 4 in Room 440 of the West Wing of the Haslam College of Business on the campus. Pre-registration is requested since space is limited. Here’s the link to do so.

Confirmed presenters include Steve Ripp of 490 BioTech, a local company that has won several SBIR awards including the very competitive Phase II award, and Lee Martin, Knoxville serial entrepreneur whose latest venture is ImmersaCAD.

“In 2016, reported there were 3,337 total SBIR Awards, of which Tennessee won just 25,” Carson notes. “Last year, Tennessee ranked 28th among all states for SBIR awards for a total of just under $12 million. According to , among 11 southeast states, Tennessee ranks seventh.”

As you might imagine, Virginia led the region with 304 awards, twice as many as number two Florida. The next two states in the rankings were North Carolina (132) and Alabama (112).

“In a state with two R-1 and one R-2 research universities and a National Laboratory, it is my belief we are leaving over a hundred million dollars of research and development funding on the table, and there is no reason why we shouldn’t be in the top four or five states in the southeast,” Carson said. “While the SBIR process can be arduous, there are local companies who have been able to earn multiple SBIR awards totaling several million dollars in just the last few years.

A number of states in the region have state-funded programs that match the federal SBIR funding, either dollar-for-dollar or at a lesser amount. The Tennessee General Assembly authorized such a program in 2016, and both Launch Tennessee and Life Science Tennessee have been working to securing funding.

For more information, review the one-page flyer (April 4 SBIR Workshop).

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