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Colmena66 wins $10K from SBA’s Lab-to-Market competition

Colmena66, a San Juan-based based nonprofit that connects island entrepreneurs and small business owners to local and regional resource partners, was awarded $10,000 through the Lab-to-Market (L2M) Inclusive Innovation Ecosystem Prize Competition, sponsored jointly by the US Small Business Administration and the National Science and Technology Council.

The nonprofit received the “Super Connector” award for its submission highlighting the network it built to entrepreneurs and researchers to create awareness of opportunities that help to advance Puerto Rico’s economy through innovation.

“The US Small Business Administration congratulates the winners of this competition, especially San Juan-based Colmena66 for their efforts to support Puerto Rico’s economic ecosystem through innovation, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new competition encourages entrepreneurship and inclusive, sustainable growth by developing and commercializing technology to improve access to resources. The entries were phenomenal,” said SBA Puerto Rico & U.S. Virgin Island District Director Josué E. Rivera.

Launched on Sept. 30, 2020,the L2M prize competition accepted more than 160 submissions from applicants across the U.S. seeking their share of the $330,000 competition prize. 

The program recognizes the most impactful organizations, programs and ideas that support the research and development (R&D) innovation ecosystems, particularly those focused on underrepresented communities and pandemic responses.

Colmena66 collaborates with more than 200 resource partners that include a great diversity from academia, government, nonprofits, incubators and accelerators.

The group has also been a driving force behind taking the wealth of these groups’ offerings and put them in a single place.  Colmena66 has also been part of the effort to bring the SBA SBIR/STTR Roadtour to Puerto Rico, the federal agency said.

“The efforts of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust, led by Colmena66, have yielded remarkable results. Since the third quarter of 2015, researchers and entrepreneurs in Puerto Rico have won a total of 16 SBIR grants,” said said Lucy Crespo, CEO of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust.”

“When we look at Puerto Rico’s track record in the SBIR/STTR programs, the result of our efforts for the past five years represents 51% of the total funds generated during the past 30 years and 35% of the total number of awards received in Puerto Rico during that same period of time,” she said.

Submissions were evaluated for quality and clarity by a panel of federal employees and non-federal partners with relevant expertise. Final selection was made by an interagency committee in coordination with the SBA’s Office of Innovation and Technology, the agency confirmed.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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