SBIR panel opens Innovation Week

Innovation Week, News

OMAHA, Nebraska (October 26, 2020)—UNeMed kicked off Innovation Week today with a panel discussion about SBIR/STTR grant funding for academic innovators and entrepreneurs.

In a little less than hour, the expert panel discussed the broad range of applications of Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grant programs.

SBIR grants help small businesses and startups support additional research and development on projects with commercial potential, while STTR grants help commercial and nonprofit research institutions bring their collaborations to market. For university researchers, SBIR/STTR funding could help support things like prototyping, software development, additional experiments or proof of concept testing.

Among the panelists were Becky Aistrup, a managing partner at BBC Entrepreneurial Training & Consulting who is a highly-regarded SBIR/STTR program expert, regularly speaking at national conferences and frequently serving on proposal review panels for NSF, DOE and USDA.

She noted that before applying for SBIR or STTR funding, it’s important that applicants make sure they are ready.

“Before you apply you have to have your business formed and your concepts in hand,” she said during the virtual event.

For panelist Josh Nichol-Caddy, the best way to begin a grant application through the SBIR/STTRR programs is easy:

“Start with an email and a conversation, and we’ll go from there,” sad Nichol-Caddy, who leads the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program for the state of Nebraska.

The entire panel discussion is available on UNeMed’s YouTube channel, and can be viewed at

Other panelists included UNeTech’s Joe Runge, UNO’s Christine Cutucache and Proven Ventures’ Nathan Preheim.

Runge is the associate director of the UNeTech Institute, an incubator/accelerator focused on startups with ties to the University of Nebraska.

Cutucache, Ph.D., is the Haddix Community Chair of Science, an Associate Professor of Biology and the Director of the UNO STEM TRAIL Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Preheim is the founder of Proven Ventures, a pre-seed venture debt fund designed to catalyze and capitalize high-growth companies based in Nebraska.

Innovation Week continues tomorrow with a seminar about Nebraska women in STEM at 10:30 a.m. Sponsored by Nebraska BIO, UNO’s Christine Cutucache, PhD, will present, “Leadership and Mentorship in STEM: The Critical Need and Action Plan” at 10:30-11:45 a.m. That event is free for students, but $25 for non-students. Registration is required:

Later on Tuesday, UNeMed will empanel another group experts to weigh in on local web and app development resources. That panel begins at noon at

On Wednesday, is another panel discussion, this one covering local prototyping and manufacturing options on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at noon. Open and free to all, that panel discussion can be viewed via Zoom at

Finally, Innovation Week concludes on Thursday, Oct. 29, with the Innovation Awards ceremony at noon.

The awards will be held via Zoom, and will honor all UNMC and UNO faculty, students and staff who submitted a new invention, were awarded a U.S. Patent or had a technology licensed during the 2020 fiscal year. UNeMed will also name the year’s Most Promising New Invention and will announce the “Innovator of the Year.”

The Awards ceremony can be viewed via Zoom at

More information about Innovation Week and the Innovation Awards can be found at

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