CI: FAST Initiative targets outreach to minority, female and veteran technology entrepreneurs


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Rocky Hill, Conn., January 19, 2011 – Connecticut Innovations (CI), the state’s quasi-public authority responsible for technology investing and innovation development, today announced that it will kick off Connecticut’s Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program outreach initiative with two information sessions about the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The sessions, which are open to the public, will be held on February 2, 2011, at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport and on March 7, 2011, at Three Rivers Community College in Norwich.

CI was one of 20 state organizations nationwide awarded a grant in FY-2010 through the competitive FAST program, which is administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Office of Technology. FAST grants are awarded by the SBA to help states improve the participation of small technology firms in the innovation and commercialization of new technology through the federal SBIR program. The SBIR program provides over $2 billion annually in research and development grants to small businesses through eleven participating federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, National Science Foundation, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The Connecticut SBIR Office will use its FAST funding to reach out to minorities, women and veterans who are starting or leading entrepreneurial, technology ventures in Connecticut – raising awareness about federal SBIR funding, conducting workshops and training events, providing individual assistance and coaching, and facilitating partnerships for commercialization. The Connecticut SBIR Office will help these entrepreneurs locate and utilize SBIR resources to grow their businesses and prepare winning SBIR proposals. The office will also offer assistance in evaluating technology ideas, business plans and Web sites, and reviewing and writing SBIR proposals. 

“The SBIR program has helped numerous Connecticut-based technology companies develop cutting-edge technologies and will go a long way toward enhancing the success of previously underrepresented businesses and increasing Connecticut’s technological competitiveness,” said Peter Longo, president and executive director of CI. “We look forward to reaching out to minority, female and veteran technology entrepreneurs here in Connecticut and educating them about the valuable federal SBIR program.”

Connecticut’s FAST initiative will leverage the successful outreach and technical assistance activities developed by the Connecticut SBIR Office over the past five years. It will also leverage the partnerships that the office has built with major defense prime contractors and other leading firms that share an interest in increasing the diversity of their innovative and talented supply chains. 

In the five-year period from 2005 through 2009, minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses represented about 8.6 percent of the 117 Connecticut firms engaged in the SBIR program, a rate that does not fully reflect the state’s growing diversity. CI’s near-term goal is to increase participation of these underrepresented communities in the SBIR program.

According to data published by the SBA, SBIR funding awarded annually to Connecticut small businesses has risen steadily in recent years, reaching $32.9 million in FY-2008. Connecticut ranked 17th in the nation in FY-2008 in number of SBIR Phase I awards issued and funding obligations for new Phase II awards. 

About Connecticut Innovations, Inc. Connecticut Innovations (CI) is a quasi-public organization dedicated to driving a vibrant, entrepreneurial, technology-based economy in Connecticut. CI stimulates high-tech growth by investing in: early-stage Connecticut technology companies, university/industry research collaborations, technology transfer, and clean energy initiatives through the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund. CI also fosters collaboration among government, business, nonprofit and academic organizations to advance technology growth and promotes public policies consistent with CI’s mission. For more information on CI, please visit ctinnovations.com. For more information about CI’s FAST initiative and the upcoming SBIR information sessions, please visit ctinnovations.com/fast.

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