Capital Region Nets the Greatest Share of Advanced Federal Technology Seed Funding in NYS
The Capital Region has emerged as New York’s leading recipient of advanced federal technology seed funding. Even more, the eight-county region in 2015 attracted significantly more Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program funding than the previous year, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of U.S. Small Business Administration data.
In 2015, small businesses in the Capital Region received $18.2 million in SBIR and STTR phase II awards for the continued development and pre-commercialization of technologies. That phase II seed funding from 16 awards was spread across nine Capital Region companies. The region’s phase II haul was the highest out of the state’s 10 economic regions and up 140.3 percent from the previous year.
On March 24 at the University at Albany, CEG will host an SBIR workshop, where Capital Region small businesses can learn how to fund ideas for innovation in research and new product development. The event is powered by FuzeHub and sponsored by the UAlbany Innovation Center and Innovate 518.
Capital Region small businesses also received $4 million in phase I awards, which go toward proving the technical merit, feasibility and commercial potential of R&D projects. The region’s SBIR and STTR funding for both phases totaled $21.2 million – the second highest level in the state and up 106.6 percent from the previous year.
Funding Cycles and Awardees
Phase I awards cover a six-month period for SBIR projects and a one-year period for STTR projects and usually do not exceed $150,000. Phase II projects usually cover up to two years of project costs and do not exceed $1 million, according to the National Institutes of Health.
In 2015, 17 Capital Region companies received SBIR or STTR funding. These awardees are currently listed on the SBIR.gov website as employing 248 workers, though 14 of them employed 10 or fewer people. Three companies – Kitware, Mohawk Innovative Technology and Pulkomine – accounted for 72 percent of all SBIR and STTR award dollars.
Competitive and awards-based, the SBIR and STTR programs support R&D and the financing of cutting-edge technologies. SBIR awards are for small businesses interested in developing a technology either independently or through a partnership. The project’s program director (PD) or principal investigator (PI) must be employed by this small business. In contrast, STTR awards are for small businesses that must formally partner with a nonprofit research institution, and the PD or PI can be employed by either entity.
There are 11 agencies with SBIR programs and five with STTR programs.
In 2015, Capital Region small business received 27 SBIR awards, with the greatest number of them (11) coming from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The region’s small businesses also received 13 STTR awards, with the greatest number of them (7) coming from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In all, the region received 40 SBIR and STTR awards, with 30 percent of them coming from DOE.
Clean Tech Cluster
The concentration of DOE SBIR and STTR awards represented a positive step in the Capital Region’s efforts to develop a clean energy technology cluster, as envisioned in the “Next-Tech” strategy of Capital 20.20, the region’s five-year economic development plan. This strategy aims to build on the region’s unique clean technology assets “to help local companies drive innovation and commercialize next-generation clean-tech solutions.” Those assets include the Saratoga Technology + Energy Park (STEP), SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Incubator for Collaborating & Leveraging Energy and Nanotechnology (iCLEAN) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Future Energy Systems (CFES).
In 2015, the Clifton Park software firm Kitware received five DOE awards under its SBIR program. Mohawk Innovative Technology in Albany received three ARPA-E awards plus another one from DOE, also as part of an SBIR program, totaling $3.5 million. These projects related to the development of an ultra-high-speed and oil-free, hyperlaminar flow engine (HFE) system. Simmetrix, another Clifton Park software firm that specializes in simulation-based design, also received one SBIR phase I award for $159,972 and one STTR phase II award for $991,334 from DOE.
For more information, contact CEG Director of Research and Communications James Schlett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t miss these insights into the trends that are shaping the Capital Region’s economy. Sign up for CEG’s e-news.