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May 12, 2019 | Tom Ballard

State increases funding for SBIR/STTR matching grants program to $3 million

There’s great news for those Tennessee-based start-ups that advance their company through grants under the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

Based on the recommendation of Governor Bill Lee and action by the General Assembly before it adjourned earlier this month, the state funds available to match the federal grant dollars have been significantly increased, rising to $3 million at the start of the 2019-20 fiscal year.

“The SBIR/STTR Matching Fund is an important resource for Tennessee entrepreneurs who are bringing exciting technologies and research to market,” said Margaret Dolan, President and Chief Executive Officer of LaunchTN. “We are grateful to the Lee Administration and leaders in the General Assembly for recognizing the value of this investment in start-ups which have already won competitive federal grants and are committed to building companies in Tennessee. We also appreciate our statewide network partners who worked tirelessly alongside our team to advocate for the expansion of this program.”

The matching grants program, developed by LaunchTN in partnership with Life Science Tennessee and other entrepreneurial development organizations, is a strategic initiative to advance the commercialization of innovations across the state.

As recipients and investors know, the federal funds available through the two grant programs represent a non-diluted source of capital, and the state matching dollars can be used for critically-important expenses like marketing that are not permissible with the federal monies.

Federal SBIR and STTR awards are highly competitive and stringently vetted. Tennessee is currently one of 15 states with an SBIR matching effort. Three of our neighboring states – Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia – implemented comparable programs earlier. Tennessee’s SBIR/STTR Matching Fund program was first signed into law during the 2016 session and funded in the 2017 and 2018 sessions…

To date, matching funds have been awarded to 24 grantees, including eight led by women, minorities or veterans. Those awards leveraged $15 million in federal funding The grant winners are geographically diverse, as well, with three from West Tennessee, 11 in Middle Tennessee and 10 in East Tennessee.

Companies receiving matching funds are required to be based in Tennessee for at least 24 months and commit to semi-annual reporting to LaunchTN and the State of Tennessee. For more information, click here.

In addition to LaunchTN and Life Science Tennessee, two other organizations – AgLaunch and the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council – also advocated for the increase in state funding.

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