North Carolina

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NC: Tech Grant Program to Focus on Job Creation, Promoting Innovation

5 Oct, 2020


Applications are now being accepted for a new round of grantmaking from the One North Carolina Small Business Program, a key source of capital for North Carolina’s technology companies. The program, administered by the North Carolina Board of Science, Technology, & Innovation (Board) and the North Carolina Department of Commerce will focus this year on helping to promote job creation and economic recovery at small technology companies meeting the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Applications will be accepted until December 1, 2020, or until funds have been exhausted for the program’s 2020-2021 fiscal year funding cycle.
 
Funding for this round of the program is provided by the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) of 2020. The CRF is designed to provide ready funding to mitigate or respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency and to address unforeseen financial needs and risks created by the public health emergency. Applicants will therefore need to articulate and document how funds will be used as reimbursements to cover expenses they have incurred to mitigate the impacts from COVID-19, to foster job creation, and promote research and technological development in response to the pandemic.
 
“Many of the most game-changing innovations take place in small, entrepreneurial businesses, and the coronavirus pandemic has directly impacted these businesses and their ability to add jobs to our economy” said Board Chair Michael Cunningham. “Accordingly, the Board recognized this and structured this year’s program to ameliorate the effects of the pandemic to quicky foster job creation and promote technological development.”
 
As in past years, the State of North Carolina will provide matching grants to North Carolina businesses that have received either federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant awards. Applicants must, as further detailed in the solicitation materials, have received official Federal Notice of Phase I award by a Federal SBIR/STTR agency during the Solicitation Period (March 1, 2020–December 1, 2020) to be eligible. Due to the conditions of the CRF funding, requirements for applicants are more for this round of grants, with the State of North Carolina able to provide matching grants of up to $100,000 on projects related to COVID-19 or for mitigating the pandemic’s impact on the applicant’s business. The program will prioritize providing full funding, to the extent possible, for applicants whose principal place of business is in a more economic distressed area (a Tier 1 or Tier 2 county).
 
Examples of eligible expenditures include, but are not limited to:
 
  • Reimbursements for the business expenses of SBIR/STTR Phase I projects that are directly or indirectly related to COVID-19 and incurred between March 1, 2020 and the date of Application for Matching Funds.
  • Reimbursement for the costs of employment or business interruption related to the SBIR/STTR Phase I projects caused by closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic and incurred between March 1, 2020 and the date of Application for Matching funds.
SBIR/STTR grants are the single largest source of early stage technology development and commercialization funding for small businesses, providing approximately $2.5 billion annually, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. North Carolina remains among a handful of business-friendly states with a matching program to leverage federal funds and help homegrown businesses commercialize innovative technologies and create jobs.
 
Since its inception in 2006, the program has helped 275 small businesses in 25 counties create and maintain more than 900 jobs and leverage more than $500 million in follow-on funding from other sources. This represents a 20-fold return on state investment.
 
The 2020-2021 solicitation for One North Carolina Small Business Matching Funds, as well as program information, application instructions and supporting materials are posted at https://www.nccommerce.com/grants-incentives/technology-funds/one-north-carolina-small-business-program . 
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