Applications are now being accepted for a new round of grantmaking from the One North Carolina Small Business Program, a key source of capital for North Carolina’s emerging technology companies. The state program works in conjunction with two federal technology grants, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. For the first time since 2009, the state will not only match awarded federal grants but will now help fund companies’ efforts to prepare and submit initial SBIR or STTR proposals to the federal government.
The One North Carolina Small Business Program’s Incentive Funds and Matching Funds initiatives are administered by the North Carolina Department of Commerce on behalf of the North Carolina Board of Science, Technology & Innovation (BSTI). Grant awards help small businesses in the state develop and commercialize innovative new technologies, in the process growing jobs and investment in their communities.
“Innovative companies can take root in every corner of our state, and today’s enhancements to the One North Carolina Small Business Program will diversify and extend opportunities for our state’s tech-oriented small businesses, wherever they’re located,” said North Carolina Secretary of Commerce Machelle Baker Sanders. “For eligible companies based in more economically distressed areas, larger awards or relaxed eligibility restrictions will open the door for more people to grow their companies in North Carolina.”
The recently revived Incentive Funds initiative provides reimbursement to qualified North Carolina businesses for a portion of the costs incurred in preparing and submitting Phase I SBIR or STTR proposals to federal agencies. In the 2021-22 fiscal year, a pool of $1 million is available for these preparation grants. The Matching Funds portion of the One North Carolina Small Business Program, which has been offered for many years, awards matching funds to North Carolina businesses who have already received a federal Phase I SBIR or STTR award. In the current fiscal year, a pool of $4 million is available to support this class of grants.
“The One North Carolina Small Business Program received the largest funding amount in its history this year,” said Michael Cunningham, BSTI Chair. “Recognizing the need to ease the ongoing impact of the coronavirus on the state’s innovation ecosystem, the Board is activating both the Incentive and Matching grants to help fund new technologies, create jobs, and enhance economic development across a variety of industry sectors, including life sciences, military/defense, chemicals, agriculture, computers, communications, pharmaceuticals, energy, materials, and others.”
Federal SBIR and STTR grants are the single largest source of early-stage technology development and commercialization funding for small businesses—more than $3.2 billion annually nationwide. North Carolina is among a handful of forward-thinking states with incentive and matching grant programs that leverage federal technology funding to help homegrown businesses commercialize innovative technologies and create jobs.
The One North Carolina Small Business Program supports early-stage companies at a critical point, shortening the time between their startup and the point where they become large, sustainable companies. Many past recipients say the vital injection of capital from the state put their companies on a successful trajectory. Since 2006, the Program has helped more than 290 companies in 25 counties, resulting in nearly one-thousand North Carolina jobs, hundreds of high-tech products, and the generation of more than $515 million in capital investments.
Applications to the One North Carolina Small Business Program can be accepted until June 30, 2022, or until funds have been exhausted for the program’s 2021-2022 fiscal year funding cycle.
The Office of Science, Technology, & Innovation, a division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, administers the One North Carolina Small Business Program on behalf of the Board. Information on the state’s economic development Tier system is available at nccommerce.com/grants-incentives/county-distress-rankings-tiers.
Details on how to apply for either the Incentive or Matching grant solicitations, as well as additional program information and application instructions, are posted at: nccommerce.com/grants-incentives/technology-funds/one-north-carolina-small-business-program.