Funding of new ventures is an ongoing issue and first money into a startup is a critical step. These types of awards fund research and develop at small companies providing non-dilutive financing in the form of a grant or contract. They also provide important due diligence on technology. The State of Kansas historically ranks low in the number of SBIR/STTR awards from the federal government. In 2012,Kansas ranked 44th among states in the average annual number of SBIR awards per 100,000 people (Milken Institute). Moreover, rankings fell from 38th in 2010 and 37th in 2008. There was an opportunity to provide support to faculty to fund startups by leveraging this program.

KU created and launched an education program centered on acquiring SBIR/STTR government funding for small companies. KU partnered with BTBC to develop the SBIR/STTR Assistance Program at KU to serve KU faculty and BTBC and KU startup companies. This program brings nationally recognized consultants to KU three times per year. Day one is an all-day intensive training on how to prepare a competitive proposal to a specific agency (Spring – NSF; Summer – NIH; Fall – DoD). Day two is one-on-one meetings between the consultants and pre-screened faculty who want to start companies or who already have a company. The consultants evaluate which faculty are ready to submit a proposal based on these meetings. Intensive, one-on-one services for up to five companies is granted per cycle leading up to a SBIR/STTR application is supported through the program. The goal is to provide assistance so more faculty entrepreneurs see a path to monetizing a startup company thus creating more entrepreneurial activity.

The SBIR Assistance Program has been well received. Two training have been held to date: February (NSF held at KU-Lawrence) and May (NIH held at KUMC). A total of 66 registered for the two events representing 24 departments or centers at KU and 12 small companies. Prior to launching the training,we funded assistance to one company as a program pilot: UAV Radars LLC worked with a consultant toward a submission of a NASA Phase I SBIR application last Fall. This project was recently funded. The second round is complete and we awarded assistance for five additional companies in May.

Faculty Founder Campus Academic Department Company Agency Funding Status
Chris Allen, Lei Shi Lawrence Electrical Engineering Computer Science UAVRadars NASA Funded
Chris Allen, Lei Shi Lawrence Electrical Engineering Computer Science UAVRadars Navy Pending
Randy Nudo KUMC Neurology NeuroLink NIH Submitting Aug. 5
David Guggenmos   Regenerative Medicine      
Laird Forrest, Dan Aires, Chad Groer Lawrence, KUMC Pharmaceutical Chemistry; Dermatology HylaPharm NIH Submitting Aug. 5
Michael Detamore Lawrence Chemical Engineering Asklepion NIH Submitting Aug. 5
Lisa Friis, Paul Arnold Lawrence Mechanical Engineering; Neurosurgery Evoke Medical LLC NIH Submitting Aug. 5
Patrick Kearney BTBC Collaborator: Chemistry HD Sciences NIH Submitting Aug. 5
Darren Wallace KUMC Medicine (Kidney Institute) NewCo NIH Submitting Dec. 5
Liang Xu Lawrence Molecular Bioscience RBP Therapeutics NIH Submitting Dec. 5

The third cycle will occur in mid-October. The training will be focused on the Department of Defense.

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