MBDA Backs Up the Bus For Small Business Innovation Research

Apr182018

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Ron Uba and Julius Maina of MBDA

What happens when two Minority Business Development Agency officials board a bus bound south along with representatives from other government agencies ranging from NASA to Homeland Security? If all goes according to plan, the result of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Road Tour will be a flurry of minority entrepreneurs engaging with government to spur American innovation and technology commercialization.

That’s the goal stated by Julius Valentine Maina, MBDA’s Policy & Inclusive Innovation Specialist, and Ron Uba, a Business Development Specialist with the Agency. Maina and Uba started the tour Tuesday in Huntsville, Ala., with ensuing stops in Chattanooga, Tenn., Little Rock, Ark., Baton Rouge, La., and finally Jackson, Miss. The SBIR Road Tour is a national outreach effort to provide greater awareness of the various funding opportunities provided through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

The SBIR/STTR programs provide $2.5 billion annually in funding to small advanced technology firms; together they represent America's Largest Seed Fund. Every SBIR Road Tour stop represents an opportunity to meet directly with Federal and State Program Managers who seed a wide spectrum of innovative ideas, while learning about state-sponsored innovation support infrastructure.

The bus concept was conceived three years ago as a way to reach more prospective innovators, no matter where they were in the development process. SBIR presents a grant opportunity that can be a game-changer for tech entrepreneurs. Every year the federal government is required to disperse grant money to the public -- $250,000 per award for Phase I and $2 million for Phase II. The problem, however, is that much of that money goes unclaimed. So the government is perpetually searching for more proposals in innovation. And MBDA, specifically, is looking for more minority entrepreneurs who are developing innovative technologies.

“Our role is to promote diversity and minority inclusion. We’re there to bring MBEs [Minority Business Enterprises] to the table,” Maina said.

Two stops on the SBIR bus tour were of particular interest to MBDA officials: Huntsville and Jackson. The hosts at both cities are Historically Black Colleges & Universities – Alabama A&M and Jackson State, respectively. MBDA is hopeful that visiting HBCUs would be particularly helpful in increasing the number of minority grant applications.

As the only federal agency created specifically to foster the establishment and growth of minority-owned businesses in America, MBDA’s participation at this year’s road tour will serve to further advance that mission while also championing the Agency’s Inclusive Innovation Initiative(I-3).

If you’re an innovator, entrepreneur, researcher, small technology firm or college student eager to learn more about the non-dilutive technology funding opportunity provided through the SBIR and STTR programs, don’t miss this opportunity.

Agenda highlights include:

  • An overview of SBIR agencies and funding priorities
  • SBIR/STTR federal agency presentations
  • One-on-One meetings with SBIR/STTR program managers
  • One-on One meetings with MBDA Business Development Specialists
  • USPTO legal workshops
  • Q&A with SBIR/STTR winning recipients

Register Today to reserve your One-on-One Meeting with SBIR/STTR Program Managers from:

  • Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
  • Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency (MDA)
  • Department of Defense - Navy
  • Department of Defense - Special Operations Command (SOCOM)
  • Department of Health and Human Services - National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC)
  • Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

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Last updated: 04/18/2018 - 3:30pm