A new program at the University of Missouri-Rolla’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach now provides assistance in preparing competitive grant proposals to help entrepreneurs get federal funding and technological assistance in starting a new business.
"Entrepreneurs often have great ideas for starting a new business, but lack the technical knowledge to make it work," says John Parfet, CEO program specialist. "Our program provides an opportunity for faculty to link with small businesses and provide that technical expertise."
Through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, entrepreneurs have the opportunity to apply for federal research and development grants to stimulate technological innovation and transfer to the marketplace; however, the application process is competitive and the grants are often difficult to get without assistance.
Led by Parfet, UMR’s SBIR/STTR assistance program helps entrepreneurs assess market information, complete SBIR and STTR grant applications and find avenues to move the business into the marketplace.
In addition, Parfet helps match the small business with a faculty member who may be able to offer technical assistance.
"The SBIR program targets the entrepreneurial sector because that is where most innovation and innovators thrive," says Amy Light-Mills, executive director of UMR’s CEO. "However, the risk and expense of conducting serious research and development efforts are often beyond the means of many small businesses."
The SBIR program brings together funding from 11 federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Science Foundation, to stimulate technological innovation. Parfet helps small-business owners find the appropriate funding agency, then assists them with the application process.
"Applications to these agencies are so comprehensive that a business nearly has a business plan written by the time they complete an application," says Mills. She believes that makes working with the CEO beneficial. "We know what a successful application looks like."
Parfet provides similar services to the UMR faculty. Faculty researchers interested in marketing their products can also apply for grants through the SBIR/STTR programs to start their own businesses, and Parfet is available for assistance.
Parfet brings a unique level of experience to the job. Prior to coming to UMR, Parfet worked with the Missouri Federal and State Technology Partnership program through University Outreach and Extension in Columbia, Mo. He also has 12 of years experience in small business, which allows him to see the process from the entrepreneur’s perspective.
In addition to his duties in the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, Parfet holds an adjunct position in the UMR School of Management and Information Systems.
For more information about the UMR SBIR/STTR assistance program, contact the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach at (573) 341-4690