How to Fund Innovation for Free

HSC received a $2M grant from Tarrant County to develop a program that helps make it easier for innovative Tarrant County small businesses to apply for funding through America’s Seed Fund. Each year the Federal Government sets aside money in America’s Seed Fund (technically called the SBIR and STTR programs) to award to small businesses that are engaged in research and development with an effort to commercialize their technologies or products. There is approximately $4B available annually; these funds are nondilutive, meaning that companies that receive these funds keep their IP and aren’t required to give up an equity stake in their company. While the funds can be instrumental in helping a company launch and grow, applying for these funds is nuanced and can be difficult for companies to navigate. To help solve this problem, HSC Next has developed an SBIR Phase 0 Program that enrolls qualified companies into a one-month program. 

Companies will learn:

  • Government registration processes 
  • The art of grantsmanship 
  • Funding agency philosophies 
  • To prepare a research budget 
  • How to develop a commercialization plan 

From there, companies will begin drafting their proposal and work with an expert who will help fine-tune the proposal. Additionally, companies can receive a commercialization plan to use in their proposal. Normally, access to these types of services cost companies between $5K-$15K. Thanks to the grant from Tarrant County, these services are available to qualified companies at no charge. The program will continue through December of 2024 and enrolls companies on a rolling monthly basis. 

To qualify, a company must:

  • Be based in Tarrant County 
  • Have fewer than 500 employees 
  • Be US owned and operated 
  • Have an innovative idea that requires research
  • Work to validate and commercialize the innovation

Click here to apply to be part of a future cohort. 

About the Author

Nicole Reilley is an entrepreneur and communications professional with a passion for public relations. She began her career leading marketing, communications and public relations initiatives for a Dallas-based nonprofit. From there, she co-founded a company that she managed for more than five years. Nicole joined the The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth in 2022 as the communications and outreach specialist for the HSC Next SBIR Phase 0 Program. She created and is implementing branding and outreach strategies for the SBIR Phase 0 Program and looks forward to serving entrepreneurs on their journey.

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