Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s initiative to help Kentucky’s high-tech small businesses spurred the state’s General Assembly last April to fund a program that matches federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) grants to those companies. The program is the first in the United States to specifically match federal SBIR and STTR Phase 2 awards and is part of Kentucky’s plan to offer its high-tech small businesses comprehensive SBIR and STTR funding.
“Kentucky is again leading the nation in our support of high-tech small businesses. This initiative means that Kentucky is now the only state in the nation with a start-to-finish matching funds program for innovative high-tech small businesses that receive federal SBIR and STTR awards," said Gov. Ernie Fletcher. "These grants support the development of new technologies into commercial products and help demonstrate Kentucky’s commitment to assisting our high-tech companies."
Kentucky now offers Phase 0, Phase 1, Phase 00 and Phase 2 funding and also invests state funds in selected Kentucky high-tech companies during Phase 3 technology commercialization efforts.
The Cabinet for Economic Development’s Department of Commercialization and Innovation (DCI) will manage the program, which will be administered under contract to DCI by the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation. Kentucky-based SBIR and STTR grant recipients may apply for matching funds of up to $100,000 to support Phase 1 exploration of the technical merit or feasibility of an idea or technology. Phase 2 federal awards, which support full-scale research and development, would be matched by the commonwealth up to $500,000 in each year of the award. Phase 0 and Phase 00 funds are available to assist with preparing proposals for Phase 1 and Phase 2 grants, respectively.
“This unique and progressive program is tailored to the particular needs of Kentucky’s high-tech and knowledge-based businesses,” said Economic Development Secretary Gene Strong. “It will significantly enhance Kentucky’s economic competitiveness and is already helping attract entrepreneurs and start-up companies to our state.”
DCI started accepting applications for the new program on Nov. 15, 2006. Guidelines for the Kentucky program are posted at www.ThinkKentucky.com/dci/SBIR.
“The SBIR-STTR matching funds program is just one of several initiatives underway that help support Kentucky’s high-tech businesses and research institutions,” said DCI Commissioner Deborah Clayton. “For example, a comprehensive assessment of the state’s life sciences and biotechnology infrastructure and assets is nearing completion. The ensuing report will detail recommendations and strategies to help ensure Kentucky’s innovation and commercialization efforts are aligned with the commonwealth’s technological resources.” Clayton explained that a second statewide assessment will cover a wide range of other scientific activities within Kentucky, including nanoscience and nanotechnology.
In addition to providing a strategic plan for Kentucky’s high-tech and innovation communities, the data collected from the two statewide assessments will be used to help develop an online database that will serve as a networking tool and as a means of attracting outside investments. The searchable database will contain information about Kentucky’s leading science and technology innovators and may be used by companies and investors to facilitate existing and new business opportunities.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency in Kentucky responsible for creating new jobs and new investment in the state. New business investment in Kentucky in 2005 totaled more than $1.6 billion with the creation of over 16,700 new jobs. Information on available development sites, workforce training, incentive programs, community profiles, small business development and other resources is available at www.thinkkentucky.com.