Michigan FASTconnect Program Wins Second Year of Federal & State Funding

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ANN ARBOR (WWJ) – Ann Arbor-based BBC Entrepreneurial Training & Consulting (BBCetc) Monday announced it has been awarded a U.S. Small Business Administration grant to provide support to growing Michigan technology companies.

The grant is from the SBA’s Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program, which is aimed at stimulating economic development among small, high-technology businesses through federally funded programs such as Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR). This is the second year BBCetc has been awarded a FAST grant.

“The MI FASTconnect program was enthusiastically received by both the companies and the statewide commercialization partners during its first year,” said Martin Dober, senior vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “Providing support to start-up companies in commercializing their technologies can be critical for their success and, in the long run, will help drive the economy and create jobs.”

Twenty awards of $95,000 each were granted to state and local economic development agencies, business development centers and colleges and universities across the country.
The SBA FAST award will be matched by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., enabling BBCetc to continue and expand its MI FASTconnect Program with the goals of:
• Strengthening the technological competitiveness of small businesses by connecting Michigan SBIR/STTR awardees to commercialization resources within the state.
• Promoting the innovation and commercialization of new technologies by enhancing the business skills of Michigan SBIR/STTR awardees via a Peer Mentor Network.
• Increasing women and minority participation in technology innovation through outreach programs to foster and encourage participation in the SBIR/ STTR programs.

“We have been very excited by how the program has progressed, so we are delighted that we now have the opportunity to enhance it further.” said Lisa Kurek, managing partner, BBCetc. “We are very grateful to the SBA and the State of Michigan for making it possible for us to connect Michigan’s SBIR/STTR awardees with early commercialization support resources and expand statewide our pilot for introducing more women-and minority-owned businesses to SBIR and STTR opportunities.”

Added Kristin Burgard, manager of the FASTconnect program: “During the program’s first year we interviewed more than 50 Michigan entrepreneurs about their commercialization needs and helped introduce them to people and programs that can contribute to their companies’ growth. One of our challenges for the coming year is to expand our outreach statewide to Michigan technology companies majority-owned by women and minorities.”

BBCetc has been assisting early-stage technology companies to become more competitive in the SBIR/STTR programs since 1990. Since 2002 the firm has managed the State of Michigan’s SBIR/STTR Assistance Program, which includes outreach, assessment, training, and one-on-one assistance with proposal preparation. During that time, its Michigan clients have been awarded over $120 million in SBIR and STTR funding.

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