As a grant development consultant, I’m often asked if there are grants available for businesses or new business start-ups. Although most grants are for not-for-profit organizations, there ARE opportunities for businesses if you know where to look. Below are three resources for unearthing grants for businesses.
1) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants
Awarded by the Small Business Administration, both grants typically facilitate the development of new technologies and product development research. Throughout the United States, small business technology, bio-technology, alternative energy, and other companies have benefitted from these grant awards. The SBIR program is a highly competitive program that encourages small businesses to engage in federal research and development that has the potential for commercialization; 11 federal agencies participate in the grant competition. STTR grants are similar, but require a business to formally collaborate with a research institution for innovation and commercialization. You can find out more about both types of grants at www.sbir.gov.
2) The U.S. Department of Agriculture
For businesses that are developing an innovative technology that could benefit farms or other agricultural organizations, the USDA provides technical assistance through its own SBIR program, which awards millions each year for small business research projects. You can find more information at www.usda.gov.
3) New York State and the Regional Economic Development Councils
Whether for education, energy, or workforce development, contact the state agency most related to your industry or area of need. In many states, workforce training projects are a high priority.
For example, in New York State, the Governor implemented a Consolidated Funding Application process that allows organizations, including businesses, to apply for funds from about 13 different state agencies each year. In the Greater Rochester region, contact the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council to learn more about state grants available through this process. If a business can make the case for how it will create jobs and contribute to the region’s economic growth, then this could be a great source for funding. Be sure to study the relevant documents at http://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/content/finger-lakes.
There are grants available for businesses and start-ups, but in most cases, they are subject to the same competitive criteria as grants for not-for-profit organizations, or nonprofits. Businesses, like nonprofits, need to be prepared with proposals that outline their project and are backed up with a solid budget plan.
Remember, grants for businesses are just one potential source. A grant could be a great complement to a loan or other funding source that comes with interest rates attached, such as bank lines of credit.
About the Author
Margit Brazda Poirier, M.S., GPC is a nationally-certified grant professional and is the founder and owner of Grants4Good LLC, a grant development consulting company based in Rochester, New York. For more information and to download a free Grant-Ready Checklist, go to www.grants4good.com.