Grants Support Local Companies That Have Received Federal SBIR/STTR Awards, Boost Rhode Island's Capacity for Innovation
Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor and the Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council (STAC) today announced new recipients of the Innovate Rhode Island Small Business Fund (IRISBF) matching grants for federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase 1 awardees: Waste Hub, LLC and EpiVax, Inc.
"Rhode Island's world-class companies and incentive programs make us a top destination for innovation and cutting-edge advances in advanced industries," said Pryor. "The recent surge of economic activity that we've witnessed in our state is a direct result of the work these businesses are doing. I applaud the latest recipients of these grants, and wish them well as they continue to set an example that all of our local businesses should strive to match."
Each company has received a competitive SBIR/STTR Phase I award from the federal government to develop a technology that is of interest to a federal agency. Waste Hub, LLC received an SBIR Phase I award from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to develop a process that will recover waste from dairy production (such as yogurt) while generating other uses for this waste. EpiVax, Inc. received an SBIR Phase I award from the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to improve the avian-origin H7N9 influenza vaccine.
"Waste Hub and EpiVax join a long list of Rhode Island companies that have received accolades and recognition for the important work they're doing right here in our own state," said Rhode Island Commerce Corporation President Darin Early. "Both are clear examples of how an integrative approach to business development from public and private partners can produce real, tangible results and make an impact on local economies."
The two grant recipients employ a total of 23 employees in scientific, managerial, technical and administrative positions, and are located in Providence and Bristol.
2016 marks the fourth year the grants have been available to local companies through the IRISBF, which was created in 2013 to foster job creation, aid small business growth and enhance a science and technology workforce pipeline. Since inception of the program in 2013, 24 companies have received $1,094,826 in state matching grants to leverage $4,247,759 in federal SBIR/STTR Phase I awards.
Through a variety of programs supported by the Fund, eligible Rhode Island firms may apply for grants to help ease the cost of applying for SBIR/STTR awards, match SBIR/STTR Phase I and Phase II awards, and hire interns.
The goals of the program are to: • Leverage state funds to encourage and support Rhode Island entrepreneurial participation in the federal SBIR/STTR programs; • Increase the amount of federal research dollars received by Rhode Island firms; • Sustain companies through the early stages of product development; • Encourage the establishment of high-potential, high-quality, high-growth ventures in Rhode Island; and • Enhance the talent pipeline in the life sciences and engineering fields.
This round's $75,000 in state grants will leverage $400,000 in federal research dollars. The grants are disbursed in two phases. Seventy-five percent of the grant is disbursed upon successful application to the matching grant program. The remaining 25 percent is disbursed upon completion of the Phase I work and submission of a Phase II proposal.
In FY16, 86 percent of Rhode Island companies receiving Phase I (Concept Development/Feasibility Study) matching grant support were awarded a Phase II (Technology Development for Prototype) federal grant, exceeding the national average of a 50 percent success rate between an SBIR Phase I and Phase II.
Past SBIR matching grant recipient highlights include:
• Response Technologies received an SBIR Phase I award from the DOD in the fall of 2015. They are currently negotiating a Phase II award and expect to continue the project this year. Response Technologies also won the 2016 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition.
• Propel LLC accepted a Phase III (Demonstration/Implementation/Commercialization) award from the DOD to continue their work on smart technology textiles.
• American Ecotech, DOE SBIR Phase I recipient, is working on developing the world's first environmental testing chamber that is able to mimic any ambient air environment and integrate references sensors in order to test small sensor technologies accurately.