Local entrepreneurs and researchers who have marketed their innovations thanks to federal grant programs and the support of local business ecosystems organization gathered in San Juan to celebrate and share their success stories.
The testimonials came during “The Faces of Innovation in Puerto Rico: SBIR Road Tour Kickoff” event organized by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust and the Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands District Office of the Small Business Administration at the United Retailers Association’s co-working space in Hato Rey.
“Serving as facilitators so that more and more researchers and entrepreneurs benefit from what it represents for their projects to obtain the SBIR grant, is one of the important goals of our mission in the Science Trust. Making visible those who have achieved it, is vital for others to get started in the effort to obtain it and thus grow our knowledge economy,” said Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo.
The grant programs for innovative technologies known as Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer, are highly competitive federal programs that seek to empower small businesses that are in research and development phases so they can market their technologies.
Entrepreneurs and researchers such as Samantha Snabes from re:3d, María Levis from Impactivo LLC, José Couvertier from Agrobeads and Carlos Cabrera from BIDEA, among others, shared the impact of receiving these subsidies on their companies, as well as some challenges faced in the process with the audience.
In addition, innovation ecosystem organizations that support these entrepreneurs and researchers in their process of applying for these programs, such as the SBA, the Small Business Development and Technology Center, Guayacán Group and the Science Trust shared the importance of promoting these opportunities in the local business ecosystem.
This event also served as the launch of the 2019 SBIR Road Tour, which will visit Puerto Rico on Nov. 15, 2019.
The SBIR Road Tour is an event organized by the SBA, which conducts a 16-stop tour across the United States that will connect entrepreneurs who work with innovative technologies with the grant programs known as SBIR/STTR, and — this year — will visit Puerto Rico for the first time.
“Our mission in the SBA is to empower small business owners and offer them the opportunity to share and succeed,” said SBA District Director Yvette T. Collazo. “The SBIR and STTR programs open opportunities in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics for entrepreneurs.”
“These are incredible resources to facilitate economic opportunity and revitalize the entrepreneurial spirit in the nation. Our small entrepreneurs stimulate innovation every day, and the SBA is committed to elevating and driving them forward,” she said.
The stop in Puerto Rico represents “a great opportunity since the SBIR Road Tour plays an important role in the development of our innovation business ecosystem and in the creation of small businesses focused on high impact research,” organizers said.
“We have one of the best SBIR support systems in the United States in terms of infrastructure. What’s special about us is that team members are part of our metrics; we are committed to meet some goal; and that is what I have not seen in other places,” said Juan Figueroa, director of SBIR at the Science Trust.
“We want everyone to become SBIR ambassadors. A new announcement is that one of our new programs will include the $200,000 match by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust for phase two. That will help us strengthen phase two of the selected companies,” Figueroa said.