BOSTON — An Oklahoma collaborative effort backed by nine partners recently celebrated its first year in helping innovative state companies apply for federal grants through 11 funding agencies.
The Oklahoma SBIR Collaborative Resources (OSCR) service met a modest first-year goal of helping eight companies prepare and submit applications for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology (STTR) grants.
The collaboration partners are ready to expand their reach exponentially.
“We didn't really market the program the first year as we learned what services were most needed by our companies,” said Steven Martinez, with the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST), who serves as co-director of the OSCR collaboration along with Rick Rainey from i2E Inc.
“We wanted to sort of cherry pick the companies that we worked with, that we knew needed help and already had an established relationship with,” Martinez said.
All proposals submitted with OSCR assistance were scored well by funding agencies, but funding awards by the participating federal agencies have yet to be announced.
“The Oklahoma SBIR Collaborative Resource has been a tremendous success in assisting both first-time applicants and well-established innovators seeking federal grants and contracts,” Rainey said.
One company that submitted a “fast-track” proposal for Phase 1 and Phase II funding from the National Institutes of Health was scored extremely high, Martinez said.
“So, OSCR is working,” he said. “This year we've already engaged 15 companies, and it's growing quickly. Now that we've started to market this thing, the next challenge is going to be managing growth.”
SBIR/STTR funding programs award about $2.5 billion in so-called non-dilutive funding to small, high-tech, innovative businesses nationwide each year. Funding awards range from about $100,000 for a Phase I grant to more than $1 million for a successful Phase II application.
Maybe it was the halo effect from the Thunder or success of in-booth partnering sessions, but the Oklahoma contingent at the 2012 BIO International Convention left Boston on Thursday with a certain sense of success with the OKBio effort, said James Johnson with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
“I'm not really one to measure that success because it has to come out of the companies that we are trying to promote, recommend and push forward,” Johnson said. “But the collaborations seem to have been here, the partnering on site seems to have worked out as noted from the back-to-back-to-back meetings. And there is that connection to the Thunder — people coming by and saying ‘so glad the Thunder are in the Finals; we are rooting for you.' Folks remember us and want to come back.”