Organized by the Florida High Tech Corridor, the 2024 America’s Seed Fund Road Tour will make its first stop at the Central Florida Tech Grove in Orlando, Florida on Feb. 7.

 

The road tour’s program will include an overview of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The SBIR/STTR programs have been informally referred to as “America’s Seed Fund” due to the active role they play in encouraging small businesses to participate in federal research and development with the potential for commercialization. SBIR/STTR eligibility is limited to American small businesses with 500 employees or less.

 

“The goal of the road tour, first, is to raise awareness for the SBIR program to Florida innovators and entrepreneurs because it’s one of the best sources of early-stage funding for developing new technologies – but it’s underutilized in Florida,” said Jack Henkel, senior cluster manager for the Florida High Tech Corridor. “We expect to bring about 20 federal program managers [the actual list is still being finalized] and agency reps who control and organize almost $4 billion of funding through the SBIR. The other goal is to get companies to meet and connect with federal representatives… relationships with the agencies are important.”

 

The event will also feature “reverse pitches” and the one-on-one meetings with federal agency representatives that will provide participants with more specialized information, as well as a variety of panel discussions and presentations. Attendees will also have opportunities to network with entrepreneurial support organizations.

 

Henkel said the road tour will offer basic information for newcomers to SBIR/STTR opportunities, as well as relevant information and opportunities for small businesses that are more experienced with these programs.

 

“The big difference between the main presentations and one-on-ones is that the main presentations will feature more of a ‘listen-only’ forum for attendees as the reps share generalized information about the SBIR/STTR programs and their agencies’ processes,” Henkel said. “The goal of the one-on-ones, which will only last about 15 minutes per meeting, will be for companies to ask the program managers specific questions. It’s a chance to learn how companies can position themselves or apply to a specific agency – it’s not a chance to pitch themselves to program managers.”

 

Henkel also clarified that this event differed from other events held at Tech Grove, in that it will not have a primary focus on Department of Defense (DoD) agencies, although they will be present.

 

“This [event] is less focused on the specific technology of modeling and simulation, but it’s about how businesses can get more funding and opportunities to advance that technology,” Henkel said. “For modeling and simulation companies, this is a chance to connect with agencies they might not have worked with before, and non-DoD organizations operate differently than DoD organizations. Small businesses will learn how to pursue those non-DoD opportunities and how to change their proposal strategies.”

 

Here is the link for more information and to register. To schedule a one-on-one meeting, after registering, then follow the instructions here.

 

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