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University-Industry Engagement Advisor

Tell your SBIR/STTR companies about this little-known supplement


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: August 4th, 2021

A detailed article on the TABA program of supplemental funding for SBIR/STTR companies appears in the July issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe access the complete article, or for further subscription details, click here

Other than classified intelligence, the Technical and Business Assistance (TABA) supplement might be the U.S. government’s best-kept secret. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program supplement is still new and not well-described on federal agency sites or even listed on www.sbir.gov to help people understand what it’s all about. But if TABA isn’t something you’re encouraging your SBIR companies to apply for, they’re leaving money on the table.

“Figuring out what TABA is and how it might be relevant to a specific company can be challenging because the rules surrounding the supplement vary from one government agency to another,” says Laura Schoppe, president and owner of tech transfer consulting firm Fuentek LLC, a TABA vendor. “The amounts awarded and guidelines for using a TABA vendor are different, for example, at NASA than they are at DoD, and even different between the Army and the Navy [within DoD].”

Congress enacted TABA in August of 2018 under the John McCain National Defense Authorization Act (JMNDAA). The goal was to improve the commercialization of SBIR-funded activities by providing market-based support services associated with the SBIR research — along with supplemental funding to pay for them — so that the companies would be more successful in commercializing the results of the government-supported innovations. The addition of the TABA funding should also reduce the practice of SBIR companies applying for multiple consecutive grants to fund research but never producing any products. “As a result of these abuses,” explains Schoppe, “agencies are getting stricter on how they look at the commercialization potential of technologies. Most agencies are now asking for a lot more detail on companies’ business plans.”

The JMNDAA allows agencies to offer SBIR/STTR applicants additional funding of up to $6,500 for Phase I awards and up to $50,000 for Phase II awards, which are used to pay vendors to provide commercialization services and support. However, not all agencies offer companies the maximum amount.

Each agency can either require its SBIR companies to contract with the agency’s preferred vendors or select their own TABA vendor. For example, DOE has two “captive” vendors that their SBIR companies must either use or request special permission to use an alternative vendor. NIH has only one vendor; no alternatives are allowed. Other agencies, like NASA, allow SBIR companies to select their own TABA vendor.

Finding a vendor is not easy. As Schoppe points out, “the companies may have no idea that TABA exists or what advantage it has for them, let alone who they’re going to go to and ask to provide that service.” Meanwhile, TABA vendors have a difficult time reaching out to SBIR companies too. “Fuentek is a TABA provider,” explains Schoppe, “but how do I advertise to small businesses that might be applying for an SBIR? There’s no centralized database of potential applicants. That’s not an easy group of people to reach out to.”

Companies applying for SBIR grants are not required to apply for a TABA supplement. However, it is essential to note that to receive the TABA funds, companies must include the request as part of their SBIR proposal, since these requests are not accepted after the company has received an SBIR award.

However, companies can request TABA support for Phase II even if they didn’t ask for it at Phase I, and not using a TABA vendor for Phase I does not negatively impact the decision to approve TABA for Phase II.

When the agency receives an SBIR proposal that includes a TABA request, the agency will first go through the technical review process and decide about accepting the company into the SBIR program, and if the award is made then agencies review the TABA request. The reviewers ensure that the TABA vendors are qualified U.S. small businesses that can provide appropriate services. If the TABA request is approved, the agency adds TABA funding as a supplement to the SBIR award.

The companies pay the TABA vendor directly, and then the agency reimburses the SBIR company. The recipients must record how the funds are spent and provide invoices to the agency, which in turn must justify TABA expenditures to Congress. The SBIR recipient cannot provide its own TABA services, and any unused funds remain in possession of the agency.

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U of Southampton start-up aims to make quantum technologies more accessible


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: August 4th, 2021

A start-up from the University of Southampton is developing a miniaturized cold atom system that could make quantum technologies more widely accessible. continue reading »

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Webinar tomorrow: Strategies for Cultivating an Enterprising Talent Pipeline: An Inside Look at the JHTV Commercialization Academy


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: August 4th, 2021

Creating a talent pipeline takes time and careful planning, but when done right you are left with a well-stocked talent pool that feeds the needs of your local and regional communities and can solidify long-term relationships with your corporate partners.

That’s exactly what the Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV) Commercialization Academy is designed to accomplish. It’s a highly competitive program that provides Johns Hopkins full-time students with exposure to the fields of commercialization and entrepreneurship through a two-year paid fellowship.

The Commercialization Academy plugs top students from across JHU into JHTV’s teams, processes, and current tech transfer projects, giving them opportunities to inform their career choices as they learn, while providing tech transfer staff with much-needed extra hands. The goal is to build a highly skilled, experienced talent pipeline while creating growth opportunities for students and energetic brainpower for their IP projects as well as their future employers.

The results and feedback have been outstanding, and that’s why we’ve partnered with JHTV on this case study webinar: Strategies for Cultivating an Enterprising Talent Pipeline: An Inside Look at the JHTV Commercialization Academy, scheduled for this tomorrow, August 5th.

For complete details, click here.

Also coming soon:

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Stanford sophomores launch global network for student-led start-up accelerators


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: August 4th, 2021

Two sophomores at Stanford University have launched a global network to help student entrepreneurs get access to funding and support. continue reading »

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Mind the Gap 2020: The University Gap Fund and Accelerator Program Report


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: August 4th, 2021

The Mind the Gap 2020 Report is a one-of-a-kind guide for current and aspiring university gap fund managers detailing 141 gap funding programs affiliated with 84 research institutions. It provides critical insights and details into their sources of sustainability, processes and management, and ultimately their impact on the innovation community and its capabilities.

This unique reference is the go-to source for comprehensive best practices, benchmarking, and program development guidance for university affiliated gap fund and accelerator programs.

Through a mix of data, benchmarks, strategies, and impact measures, this report provides success stories that managers and stakeholders can use to build towards their unique fund objectives.

For complete details including a report summary, click here.

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Bridge Medicines licenses novel cancer therapy from Cornell


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: August 4th, 2021

Drug discovery company Bridge Medicines has signed a license agreement with Cornell University to develop and commercialize new therapeutics for difficult-to-treat cancers such as triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). continue reading »

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Chimeric Therapeutics licenses CAR T therapy from U of Pennsylvania


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: August 4th, 2021

Drug developer Chimeric Therapeutics and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) have signed a license agreement to advance a novel cancer therapy that fights solid tumors. continue reading »

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Syracuse researchers develop machine learning approach to forensic DNA analysis


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: August 4th, 2021

Researchers at Syracuse University have developed the first machine learning approach to forensic DNA analysis. continue reading »

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U of Queensland spinout advances nasal spray technology to treat mental disorders


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: August 4th, 2021

InnarisBio, an atai Life Sciences company, is commercializing a nasal spray technology from the University of Queensland (UQ) for the delivery of therapeutics to treat mental disorders. continue reading »

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Intellectual Property Primer for Non-Attorneys


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: August 4th, 2021

Everyone in the commercialization pipeline must have a fundamental knowledge of how to identify intellectual property, how to help ensure its protection, and what their role is in that process. As every TTO can attest, just one conversation, one publication, or one forgotten contribution can put your IP in jeopardy.

Intellectual Property Primer for Non-Attorneys is an introductory, one-hour distance learning program focusing on the different categories of IP and the creator’s role in protecting each of them. This expert consult with a leading attorney is specifically designed for faculty, students, and others who need a good working understanding of the IP landscape – and their role in it.

Attorney Tyson Benson, with Vivaqua Crane IP Law, leads this concise but comprehensive primer covering each type of intellectual property – how it’s protected, and how that protection can be lost or endangered.

You can keep this program in your TTO’s training “library” and use it throughout your organization whenever the need arises. Give faculty, staff, and student innovators the baseline knowledge they need to engage with the university commercialization enterprise.

For complete details, click here.

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New public corporation aims to boost innovation and entrepreneurship across Alabama


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: August 4th, 2021

A new public corporation in Alabama aims to promote innovation and entrepreneurship across the state. continue reading »

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U of Minnesota start-up raises $21.3M to build plant for sustainable magnets


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: August 4th, 2021

A start-up from the University of Minnesota (UMN) has raised $21.3 million to build a magnet-producing factory in the state. continue reading »

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