SBIR/STTR Workshop Forges Connections between Businesses and Academia

Small Business Innovation Research attendees

Small businesses, faculty members, and researchers turned out Thursday at the College of Engineering’s SBIR/STTR Workshop to learn more about securing federal funding to build businesses.

The event, sponsored by Rep. Alan Lowenthal, the city of Long Beach, and the Southern California Biomedical Council, drew about 100 people to the Pointe Conference Center at the Walter Pyramid.

College of Engineering Dean Forouzan Golashani pointed out that the more than 28 million small businesses in the United States form the backbone of the economy.  “Looking at the increase in federal government funding compelled us to see how we can bring people together to compete for these opportunities,” he said.

Provost Brian Jersky said Long Beach State welcomes partnership opportunities, particularly if they align with the university’s goals of inclusion and diversity.  “We need more partners. We know we can’t do what we do alone,” he said.

In a recent analysis, Beacon Economics determined that Long Beach State generated a $1.53 billion economic impact in Los Angeles and Orange counties during the 2016-2017 fiscal year. That included a $567.1 million impact on the city of Long Beach.

That translates to a return of $7.50 for every $1 in state funding invested, the provost said.

Long Beach Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez said the attention on forming partnerships comes at a time when Long Beach is focusing on attracting tech companies and building a skilled workforce. “We are especially lucky to have people educating engineers. We understand the importance of the innovation economy,” she said.

The free workshop was intended to create a better understanding of the region’s unique technological strength, foster collaboration and partnerships, and organize like-minded technology clusters that will impact the future national agenda.

The SBIR and STTR programs require governmental agencies to set aside a percentage of their budgets to encourage small business research and development that has a strong potential for technology commercialization. While the SBIR program encourages research partnerships, the STTR program requires small business to collaborate with a nonprofit research institution.

The event featured five directors overseeing SBIR and STTR awards. They included:

  • David Busigo, Director of Small Business Programs Office, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
  • Shawn Phillips, Chief, Rocket Propulsion Division, Air Force Research Laboratory
  • Matthew Portnoy, SBIR/STTR Program Manager and Director, National Institutes of Health
  • Ben Schrag, Senior Program Director for SBIR/STTR Programs, National Science Foundation
  • Robert Smith, Director of SBIR/STTR Programs, Office of Naval Research.

Their presentations can be viewed here.

Panels were also held on Regional Resources, featuring Hamid Rahai, associate dean of Research & Graduate Programs; Tony Ngo, an intellectual property specialist with Boeing; and Walter Larkins, CEO of Sapphire RCMS.

Walid Sabbagh Jr., vice president of business development with the Southern California Biomedical Council, moderated a panel discussiuon on healthcare with Ernest Bates, Dr. Tom Chen, Dr. Gary Fujii, Earle Hager, and Dr. Kenneth Sim.

Long Beach Economic Development Director John Keisler led a panel discussion on Aerospace and Defense with Julio Navarro, a Senior Technical Fellow with Boeing, and Tom Pieronek, Northrop Grumman Vice President of Basic Research.