Best Practices

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“If you come into the incubator, we will help you find a grant. If you’ve already identified one, we will help you write the grant application.”

– Gordon Hogan, Director, UCF Business Incubation Program

WHY WE’RE WATCHING:

A review of all 2017-2018 Small Business Administration SBIR and STTR grants in Florida shows that 48 percent of the grants awarded in the state were to companies within the Orlando metro area.

HOW THEY DID IT:

The University of Central Florida Business Incubator Program helps client companies successfully identify and apply for SBIR/STTR grants.

THE FULL STORY:

The goal of the University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program (UCFBIP) and its community partners is to facilitate smarter, faster startup and growth of emerging companies to spur economic growth throughout the region.

Several years ago, UCFBIP identified growth in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants as a key component to helping their client companies achieve success at an early stage.

UCFBIP will only allow scalable businesses to enroll in the incubator program. Companies seeking to enroll must demonstrate their growth potential through an online application and completion of the Excellence in Entrepreneurship (EIE) Course. During the EIE course, expert UCFBIP staff present SBIR/STTR information and explain how the program works.

Since 1999, UCFBIP has successfully helped 231 companies secure Phase I and Phase II SBIR/STTR grants for a total of nearly $73 million in funding. Through the first three quarters of 2018, 30 incubator client companies have already been awarded over $3 million.

According to UCF Incubator Director Gordon Hogan, SBIR/STTR grant funding is appealing to start-up companies for two key reasons: 1.) they don’t have to have a finished product to apply for Phase I funding and 2.) the funding is in the form of a grant, rather than an investment which would need to be paid back.

UCFBIP clients are provided an array of business development services and resources to help accelerate growth. The formal incubation process takes place through a series of strategic and tactical working sessions. The strategic sessions are designed to help define the company business, market and capital strategies and to build the business plan. Expertise and resources are then identified to address tactical needs.

Regular education and networking programs also are designed to address the shared needs of UCFBIP clients. This comprehensive process includes: an on-going series of strategic and tactical meetings, a variety of business development services, business coaching, and other resources, such as office space, that are designed to help a company grow smarter and faster.

Graduation takes place when a client has achieved a level of financial and corporate growth that enables them to leave the incubator and enter the second stage of corporate growth.

Graduates of the program have been recognized by the International National Business Incubator Association (InBIA) and the program itself has been honored as the 2013 “Incubator Network of the Year.”