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Startups, innovation projects invited to participate in funding competition

Puerto Rico startups and innovative research projects are being given the chance to access to funds from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs — which represent the largest seed capital fund in the United States.

The call to participate in the “Acércate al Grant” program comes from Colmena66, parallel18 and Research Grant Programs — all under the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust umbrella

“One of the biggest challenges that startups and research projects face is the development of the proposal since they lack the time, experience, or money to be able to hire an expert to assist them in that process. This is why this call will subsidize the costs to hire a professional grant writer,” the organizers stated.

Projects that are not formalized will receive assistance in the incorporation process, which is a requirement for SBIR/STTR programs.

“Acércate al Grant” is powered by funds awarded to the parallel18 accelerator, which was chosen among the 60 winners of the US Small Business Administration’s Growth Accelerator Fund competition. Parallel18 received $50,000 to support startups and entrepreneurs researching and developing STEM innovations, those related to science, technology, engineering, and math. 

“Increasing the number of researchers and entrepreneurs requesting and obtaining SBIR/STTR funds in Puerto Rico is one of our highest priorities,” said Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo.

“These programs stimulate new technologies, catalyze discoveries, and facilitate the commercialization of innovations. It’s essential to facilitate the access of researchers and entrepreneurs to these federal opportunities,” she said. 

Meanwhile, Sebastián Vidal, the Science Trust’s chief innovation officer said that “as part of the Trust’s vision for Puerto Rico to become a global innovation center, it is imperative to know the needs and challenges faced by researchers and entrepreneurs in order to offer them the necessary tools that increase their chances of success. That is one of the main goals of this call.”

According to fundingforgood.org , proposals written by professional grant writers have a 60% probability of success, he said.

Each year, federal agencies with external research and development (R&D) budgets in excess of $100 million must allocate a certain percentage of their R&D budget to these SBIR/STTR programs. Their primary objectives are to: stimulate technological innovation, meet federal research and development (R&D) needs through small businesses, promote participation in innovation and entrepreneurship spirit of socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses, and increase marketability in the private sector for innovations that emerge with the help of federal funding for R&D. 

“The business sector is where the most innovation happens but investing in innovation can be risky and costly,” said Colmena66 Executive Director Denisse Rodríguez-Colón.

“At Colmena66 we focus on building and strengthening access to an inclusive and diverse business ecosystem, where every individual has a real opportunity to turn their idea or project into an economic reality. This initiative is an access ramp to increase the probability of winning a federal grant to bring innovation from the laboratory to the market,” she said. 

The call will be open until Feb. 8 and eligible participants include: Startups; independent research projects; established companies; and private and state academic institutions. Also on the list are research institutions whose initiatives belong to the sectors of: Research technology and communications; biotechnology and life sciences; medical devices; aerospace; clean technology/renewable energy; agriculture; environmental sciences and electronics.

The evaluation of the applications will be based on criteria of innovation, probability of commercial use, technical experience of the team, research objectives, and exploratory experiments. 

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

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