CHANGE THE WORLD.

Get inspired by watching this short video about America’s Seed Fund – SBIR/STTR.

Our mission is to support small business technology innovation and commercialization by leveraging our expert technical and business assistance.   Our support is free and confidential to increase your competitiveness in the programs. Our broad key areas include:

  • Access to Non-Dilutive Capital
  • Access to Federal Agency Connections
  • Access to Information and Resources

Register here for our monthly SBIR 101 Orientation on the 2nd Monday of each month.  We strongly encourage you to review our Self-Assessment to determine your readiness, and we highly recommend that you review the SBIR Tutorials to learn more about the programs

Why are the SBIR/STTR programs and funding critical to Minnesota’s economy?  SBIR/STTR funding has been important to seed, emerging and existing small businesses resulting in several IPOs, mergers and acquisitions, growth of startup and existing small businesses along with the graveyard.

IMPACT: Since 1982, more than $888M has been competitively awarded to 400+ plus companies across key industry sectors (medical, defense, energy, agriculture, education, environmental, etc.).  Since the inception of the Accelerator in 2014, we have facilitated more than $50M in SBIR/STTR funding with more than 50 companies. 

Why does the Minnesota SBIR/STTR Accelerator exist?  Our Accelerator is different from other accelerators.  Our Accelerator assists startups AND small businesses, statewide, fewer than 500 employees, to compete and win federal research funding for early stage product R&D development with the goal to commercialize the technology into a new product or service.  And, the SBIR/STTR phases, timelines and opportunities demand a long view, tenacity, persistence and passion.  We know how complex and difficult it is to navigate the federal R&D arena.  We have decades of demonstrated knowledge and connections across the 11 participating federal agencies to make the journey less stressful for qualifying firms to successfully apply. We help you think strategically and methodically to leverage these funding programs to achieve your research and commercialization goals.

The Minnesota SBIR/STTR Accelerator is funded in part through a Federal and State Technology Partnership (FAST) Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. The Small Business Administration’s FAST Program is a competitive program designed to strengthen the technological competitiveness of small businesses. It improves the participation of small technology firms in the innovation and commercialization of new technology, thereby helping keep the United States on the cutting edge of research and development in science and technology.  FAST provides funding to organizations to execute state/regional programs that increase the number of SBIR/STTR proposals leading to an increase in the number of SBIR/STTR awards from women, socially/economically disadvantaged individuals, and small businesses in underrepresented areas – typically rural states.

Training and Coaching Assistance – Our Bread and Butter

Any size company can participate in our cohorts. We deliver 10 cohorts throughout the year based on three federal agencies: the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Health and Human Services (NIH, FDA, CDC) (DHHS), and the National Science Foundation  (NSF).   The cohort group training is followed by 1:1 expert coaching.  For the remaining eight agencies, we offer adhoc support.

The programs are HIGHLY COMPETITIVE with success rates between 10-20% in the first phase. Due to our limited resources, we require each firm to apply to our Accelerator.  Our application requires a discussion about the technical innovation, the technical challenges, the market opportunity and the company/team.  We will review your information to determine your readiness to start the SBIR journey.

We support each phase by providing the following :

Phase I – The objective of Phase I is to establish the technical merit and feasibility of the proposed research and development efforts and to determine the quality of performance of the small business prior to providing further federal support in Phase II.  Our assistance includes, but not limited to:

  • Powerful and Experienced Team:  We augment our full-time director with qualified consultants to deliver value-added advice and guidance to our clients on a case-by-case basis. We also engage with federal agency leaders to support your project.
  • Pre-Submission Proposal Reviews –We provide direct and unvarnished review of proposals at no cost to you.
  • Pre-Submission Budget Reviews – We provide direct feedback on your proposed budget based on agency rules and requirements.  We aim to maximize the amount of funding you can request from the targeted agency.  This includes the $6,500 Discretionary Technical and Business Assistance (TABA) funding (does not include NSF Phase I).
  • Indirect Cost Rate Determination– We engage qualified experts, local and national, who can help you determine your indirect cost rate. This is a really important number for your budget.
  • Financial Management Support – We engage with qualified experts, local and national, to ensure your financial management system (chart of accounts, cost accounting system, etc.) will meet the basic requirements for a federal award. This is increasingly becoming more important with each year.
  • Pre-Award and Post-Award Assistance – We help you navigate the federal R&D grant and contract landscape that is riddled with rules, regulations, policies, etc.  We provide limited support before referring you to qualified consultants, accountants, government contract professionals to help you.

Phase II – The objective of Phase II is to continue the research and development efforts initiated in Phase I. Generally, only Phase I awardees are eligible for a Phase II award. Our assistance includes, but not limited to:

  • Phase I to Phase II Transition– We want you to transition your Phase I to a Phase II, and beyond.
  • Pre-Submission Application Review –We provide direct and unvarnished review of the application.
  • Pre-Submission Budget Review – We provide direct feedback on your proposed budget based on agency rules and requirements.  We aim to maximize the amount of funding you can request from the targeted agency. This includes the up to $50,000 of Discretionary Technical and Business Assistance (TABA) funding.
  • Commercialization Plan Support– We provide on a case-by-case basis market research and analysis support for women and minority firms.
  • Commercialization Plan Review – We can also provide direct and unvarnished review and critique of your commercialization plan based on the agency rules, requirements and policies.
  • Financial Management Support – We engage with qualified experts, local and national, to ensure your financial management system (chart of accounts, cost accounting system, etc.) will meet the basic requirements for a federal award.
  • Pre-Award and Post-Award Assistance– We offer first responder support to answer your immediate questions, and then we’ll refer you to other expert resources.

Phase III – The objective of Phase III, where appropriate, is for the small business to pursue with non-SBIR/STTR funds the commercialization objectives resulting from the Phase I/II research and development activities. Phase III refers to work that derives from, extends, or completes an effort made under prior SBIR/STTR Funding Agreements, but is funded by sources other than the SBIR/STTR programs. Phase III work is typically oriented towards Commercialization of SBIR/STTR research or technology, including through further R/R&D work. .  Read more here about data rights and Phase III.

Other Resources

The Minnesota innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem is vibrant with a wide array of resources to gain traction for your technology commercialization goals and objectives. We are at the intersection of government, industry and academia to small businesses in the federal R&D arena. Here are some of the most important resources in the ecosystem:

  • SciTech Internship Program – We direct many of our clients to the SciTech Internship Program to hire vetted STEM students (undergraduate and graduate).  The company must first register with SciTech before hiring any students.  Up to $2,500 per student.
  • Launch Minnesota Innovation Grants:
    • Business Operations Grant: These grants provide up to $35,000 for business operations, including research and development, direct business expenses and technical assistance.
    • SBIR/STTR Phase I and II Matching Grant: These grants are for first time Phase I and Phase II awardees and will be based on sliding scale of their Federal award (up to $35,000 for Phase I awards and up to $50,000 for Phase II awards). The firm must be accepted in our Accelerator to leverage these funds.
  • Minnesota Venture Builders offer critical educational content for startups and existing companies to commercialize a new product, service, or process.  We encourage you to review their information for video presentations from the experts.
  • Minnesota Exchange  – The Minnesota Exchange will be the state’s software platform to connect startup founders, mentors, advisors, investors, and subject matter experts (SMEs). This initiative puts an emphasis on bringing the right stakeholders together at the right time for quality conversations to accelerate progress and deepen relationships.

Financial Sponsors: