Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
December 2006
National SBIR Conference Helped Entrepreneurs Learn to Compete Effectively for Federal Funding

For the first time in the 20-year history of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, Wisconsin hosted a National SBIR Conference. In early November, 550 entrepreneurs and professionals from around the country came to Milwaukee to learn how to compete effectively for federal funding that supports innovative product development. Through the SBIR program, 11 federal agencies provide over $2 billion annually to US small businesses conducting R&D activities of national interest. The scope of innovation funded is expansive, ranging from medical technology and nanotech, to advances in aeronautics, education, environmental technologies, agriculture, energy, information technology, national security, and manufacturing. The National SBIR Conference delivered comprehensive training on all aspects of SBIR success and commercialization, as well as one-on-one meetings with SBIR agency managers to pre-qualify research topics for funding consideration.

More and more, Wisconsin companies are using SBIR to fund proof of concept and prototype development—funding difficult to obtain from conventional sources. Since the program is peer reviewed and highly competitive, winning an SBIR award confers technology credibility and can be a magnet for later investment. The 2006 SBIR Awards Banquet recognized 46 Wisconsin companies that won 77 SBIR awards totaling over $30.5 million in a recent 12-month period.

The Department of Commerce helped secure the National SBIR Conference for Wisconsin. For the past year, Commerce's Bureau of Entrepreneurship and the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Network collaborated with local universities to develop the four-day conference agenda, and, with our Communications Office, to promote the event statewide. Not only was the event well-attended and favorably reviewed, it also showcased Milwaukee's downtown revitalization for a national audience.

-- Cheryl Gain

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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