Grants offer aid to small tech businesses

If your business has a high tech innovation, the Arizona Department of Commerce may have some money to help you develop your dream.

ADOC announced this week that for the second year, the US Small Business Administration Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program has awarded it money, allowing ADOC in turn to offer as many as 30 grants to businesses and individuals to assist them with training, mentoring, business advisory services, proposal writing assistance and marketing expertise. The goal of the grants is to help small tech businesses in Arizona develop and commercialize new technology.

The department will match the $95,000 federal grant with money from its Commerce and Economic Development Commission, making a total of $190,000 available to tech companies throughout the state.

Brian Sherman, technology commercialization program manager for ADOC, said his department uses the FAST grant money to assist small tech companies and individuals to prepare proposals that can win federal Small Business and Innovation and Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) money.

“Our program at the state helps companies get to the point where they can submit a good proposal that will win the federal grants. The (FAST grants) are partly education and partly small grants up to $5,000. An individual applicant will say they have a business plan, they work in a certain technology area, and they want to work within the program. We help them identify opportunities,” he said.

If a business is successful in its application, Sherman said, it could obtain as much as $100,000 initially in a phased program to develop its product concept. Sherman said businesses must complete this phase in six months. A phase II award, with a time line of two years to develop a prototype of the product, can approach $1 million.

According to the Arizona Technology Council, some examples of FAST grant winners in Arizona include Crawdad Technologies of Chandler, which used the money to write a proposal for a grant to develop a prototype of a dashboard-style information display product. Deluge, Inc. of Phoenix markets a thermal hydraulic engine that converts hot water into mechanical power without combustion or emissions. Its uses include desalination. The company used its FAST Grant to write a proposal for desalination for submission to the U.S. Army and Navy.

Info-Bahn Industries of Lake Havasu City, which markets a database system for communities to connect with corporate real estate site developers, used its FAST grant to submit a proposal to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture for a database system. The company wasn’t successful in its first bid, but it recently re-submitted and is waiting for results.

Other FAST grant recipients develop products to assist physical therapists, specialize in software development for avionics, medical uses and more, manufacture engines for specific needs, and market filters that remove contaminants from drinking water.

While a majority of last year’s FAST grant winners were from Arizona’s metro areas, Sherman said ADOC is particularly interested in finding rural Arizona businesses that can benefit from the grants. One rural Arizona success story is Novakinetics LLC of Flagstaff. The company engineers and manufactures aircraft engines and parts, armor products, and more. The company credits the consultant it hired through a FAST grant with helping it organize future grant requests. Novakinetics recently landed a long-term contract to design and build an engine for Eclipse Aviation in Albuquerque, NM.

ADOC is now finalizing the application process for the FAST grants. For more information, call Brian Sherman at 602-771-1117.

(Contact the reporter at hdfoster@westernnews.com.)

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