Nichol-Caddy highlights SBIR/STTR funding at latest Morning Edition


Marcia Shade, PhD, assistant professor in UNMC’s College of Nursing, speaks with Josh Nichol-Caddy (left) of the Nebraska Business Development Center during the networking event, Idea Pub: Morning Edition on May 30, 2024. Dr. Shade is also the founder of a startup company, Voice-It, Inc.

OMAHA, Nebraska (May 31, 2024)—UNeMed’s “Idea Pub: Morning Edition” continued with its second installment yesterday, bringing together a unique blend of innovators, investors, researchers, entrepreneurs and others from the local startup community to share ideas, contacts and insights.

The startup and entrepreneurial networking event featured brief comments from Josh Nichol-Caddy, Technology Commercialization Director at the Nebraska Business Development Center, and UNMC inventor, founder and assistant professor in the College of Nursing, Marcia Shade, PhD.

Nichol-Caddy gave a brief overview of the NBDC’s services, including advisory and guidance programs for entrepreneurs that helps them navigate the sometimes arcane process of starting a new company.

Josh Nichol-Caddy of the Nebraska Business Development Center addresses the gathering of the networking event, Idea Pub: Morning Edition on May 30, 2024.

One important element that the NBDC often plays a major role with certain federal grant applications. Specifically, the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs—SBIR/STTR for short— have particular value for University of Nebraska innovation and the startup companies formed around them, in part due to the state matching funds available through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. Getting to know and meeting with grant reviewers is an important step to improving chances of success, he said.

“Grant decisions are made by people and panels of people,” Nichol-Caddy said. “I’ve never heard a ‘No’ from a federal grant review, but there are shades of ‘no,’ and we can help refine your pitch and figure out what’s needed.”

He added later that understanding what elements of a startup or innovation are more interesting to grant reviewers can help improve the odds. As an example, he cited Dr. Shade and her recent SBIR grant application for her startup, Voice-It, Incorporated.

Voice-It employs AI technology to assist patients, their families, and caregivers in effectively managing their care and pain. The reviewer might not be as interested in the pain management aspect of the startup up as the use of AI, so shifting focus in the application can help, he said.

Dr. Shade said the process was long and challenging, but worth it.

“I would plan on five months of writing and planning and meeting with people at the NIH,” she told the gathering, before adding with a laugh: “And then plan a vacation after, because you’re going to need a break.”

She continued: “But it was a great process because I learned so much.”

UNeMed, the technology transfer and commercialization office for UNMC and UNO, sponsored the event in the DRC II commons, which will continue as a regular monthly series. The series will continue to feature guest speakers from the entrepreneurial ecosystem; and will provide UNMC and UNO innovators an opportunity to build new partnerships and allies that can help develop their innovative ideas and discoveries into products that help people.

In his opening remarks UNeMed president and CEO Michael Dixon, PhD, noted that the many new faces at the event, including several successful entrepreneurs who had already built and sold new companies. He urged the audience to make new connections with those entrepreneurs, and to “please take advantage of their expertise.”

UNeMed’s business development manager, Tyler Scherr, PhD, organized the event, and announced that next month’s event will feature Jay Lund, at GreenSlate, the development firm that is building the new Catalyst health tech incubator currently under construction west of the Durham Research towers.

A key element of next month’s Morning Edition, will include hard hat tours of the new building, “so bring sturdy shoes,” Dr. Scherr said.

That Morning Edition is planned for Thursday, June 27, at 9 a.m.

Morning Edition will continue on the last Thursday of every month, featuring a new speaker each time. Each Morning Edition will also feature “Office Hours,” with MOVE and UNeMed. Office Hours creates the opportunity for faculty, students and staff to have one-on-one time with MOVE or UNeMed professionals to discuss new technologies or startup potential.

Additional planned speakers in the coming months include, in no particular order:

  • Ben Kuspa, Nebraska Department of Economic Development: Securing state matching funds & prototyping grants
  • Brent Clark, NSF I-Corps Great Plains Region Hub: Why you should’ve done customer discovery yesterday
  • Ben Walker, Innosphere: How you can benefit from a life sciences incubator program
  • Scott Henderson, NMotion: When should you apply to the NMotion accelerator?
  • Ben Williamson, Invest Nebraska: What are VCs looking for?
  • Stephen Hug, UNeTech: Adventures in faculty/entrepreneur matchmaking

A more complete and detailed schedule will be released in the coming weeks.

Morning Edition is the latest addition to UNeMed’s growing suite of entrepreneurial networking events, which includes Innovations & Libations and Startup Showcase.

Comments are closed.