Idea Bank: Helping Companies Win Big

The Minnesota High Tech Association shows businesses how to attract grant funding.

What’s the great idea? Training area businesses how to apply for competitive grant programs

Who’s doing it? Minnesota High Tech Association

What’s involved? Organizations often hear that funding is available, but the hard part is getting it. MHTA wants to make it easier. Since 2014, its Accelerator program has helped newbies learn to navigate the process of applying for two federal funding programs: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer. The programs are highly competitive and provide money to businesses either as grants or contracts.

“The Accelerator is aimed at helping the company prepare and submit their proposal,” says Pat Dillon, director of MNSBIR for MHTA. “It’s really challenging if you’ve never done it before. You don’t know what the boundaries are or what you should be asking. We try to take the mystery out of it.”

Last year, MHTA received a grant allowing it to accept 120 companies into the program in cohorts of 10 on a rolling admission. Companies don’t have to be members of MHTA, but they do have to commit to the program, which includes months of classes and hands-on advice. Even if companies don’t win a grant, they will be prepared for the future.

“The goal is to teach people how to do this so they can navigate through it themselves,” Dillon says. “What they learn they can take with them going forward.”

What are people saying? Since MHTA began the Accelerator program, 38 participating companies have secured funding. The new cohorts started last fall. “Everyone has different backgrounds, and it’s energizing to see the interactions and the learning that takes place among the people sitting in the room,” Dillon says.

(Chaay Tee/Getty Images)

Rasheeda Childress

By Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is a former editor at Associations Now. MORE

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