The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued over 30 grant awards to women-owned, rural-based, and socially or economically disadvantaged small businesses.
The grant awards are part of the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program. The grants amount up to $125,000 each and are aimed at funding specialized training, mentoring and technical assistance for research and development-focused small businesses.
SBA Awards FAST Grants to Underserved Communities
The FAST program is aimed at improving Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs for typically disadvantaged communities.
This is positive news for many innovative start-ups, as it will increase equitable access to federal research funding. The SBA has stated improving access is a priority for them, with the ultimate goal of building a stronger future for communities.
Empowering the Innovation Ecosystem
The SBA Administrator, Isabella Guzman, said of the program: “Our FAST Partnership Program is designed to empower the innovation ecosystem at the local level and help underserved communities gain access to SBIR and STTR, or America’s Seed Fund [which is] the largest source of early-stage capital in the United States.
“FAST’s continued growth will strengthen the national innovation ecosystem and ensure all small businesses are better positioned in this next stage of recovery to access unprecedented investments to re-imagine our future economy that will be made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework and President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.”
OK Catalyst is one of the organizations helping to teach entrepreneurs how to use SBIR funding.
OK Catalyst’s Director, Sarah Hamby, said: “The SBA’s investment in Oklahoma, through the FAST program, has been vital to OK Catalyst reaching untapped communities in the Heartland through training and mentorship programs that embolden women and minority entrepreneurs with transformational potential to launch new products and grow a business.”
Hamby added that the FAST funding has enabled her organization to ‘drastically improve’ the competitiveness and success of SBIR/STTR proposals in Oklahoma.
Mentoring and Funding for Technological Development
The grants are awarded to recipients from all over the United States, with the recipients of the awards this year covering a broad geographical area. They include state and local economic development organizations and small business technology development centers. There has also been grants awarded to women’s business centers, procurement technical assistance centers, incubators, accelerators, colleges and universities.
All the organizations involved in the FAST program provide support to the small businesses working on developing advanced technologies.
Entrepreneurs and start-ups can use the funds to improve proposal development and team creation, plus the program provides assistance that will lead to the commercialization of technology developed through SBIR/STTR program funding.
This includes a variety of mentoring networks offering advice and counseling on top of the funding.