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Arkansas invites applicants for small business innovation fund



ARKANSAS – Arkansas researchers and early-stage companies are invited to apply for the 2021 Lab2Launch Accelerator program, focused on the state Department of Agriculture.

Offered by the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, the multi-week accelerator prepares companies to tap into SBIR, the highly competitive federal Small Business Innovation Research funding program.

Also known as America’s Seed Fund, SBIR and its sister, Small Business Technology Transfer, annually award $3.7 billion in grants and contracts to small, early-stage companies to pursue the commercial potential of innovative technologies.

Led by the center’s innovation specialist, Rebecca Todd, Lab2Launch offers step-by-step guidance on every aspect of preparing and submitting a strong SBIR proposal to USDA. Participants will get help with topic selection, budget preparation, writing and editing, market research and more.

The USDA cohort will start in June. Sessions are virtual, so companies based anywhere in the state can easily take part.

Todd said Arkansans wanting to research and develop new products and services that respond to the Department of Agriculture’s SBIR objectives and research topics should apply for Lab2Launch.

“USDA has broad research topics that generally repeat from one funding cycle to the next. One of the regular topics is ‘Rural and Community Development,’ which encompasses a range of project ideas leading to solutions that will ultimately improve quality of life for rural America. So, many companies who may have a non-agricultural customer type in mind may find that their technology is relevant to USDA’s interests,” she said.

Todd is an experienced SBIR/STTR proposal editor and reviewer who has served on USDA application review panels three times.

“I want to use the ‘inside’ knowledge that I’ve gained from this experience to help Arkansas companies craft their best possible applications in both phases of this program,” she said.

Spots are limited. Researchers and companies seeking a first SBIR/STTR grant or contract will receive first preference.

The application period for the Lab2Launch USDA cohort closes May 28.