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State of Illinois Launches $5 Million Grant Match Program to Spur Innovation in Cutting Edge Technologies

Press Release - Thursday, November 17, 2022

State-funded program provides matching grants to small businesses who have received federal SBIR/STTR funding to support entrepreneurship, commercialization, and innovation

CHICAGO - Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today announced $5 million in state-funded matching grants for businesses who have received federal funding through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

The federal SBIR & STTR programs provide grants for research and development (R&D) to small businesses to encourage private sector innovation in emerging technologies. R&D represents a critical business expense that can be costly and presents a potential risk for small businesses that don't have large sums of capital. By providing grants that support R&D, the programs encourage innovation in emerging technologies that could benefit the federal government as well as the commercial marketplace.

"Illinois is known for our innovative spirit and leadership in emerging technologies," said Governor JB Pritzker. "This matching grant program will help spur innovation by providing Illinois small businesses with more capital for critical research and development efforts."

The state-funded SBIR/STTR Matching Grant Program is designed to further increase capital for SBIR/STTR recipients in Illinois - stimulating high-tech innovation and commercialization for Illinois small businesses that are conducting cutting-edge research. Illinois currently has more than 100 SBIR/STTR federal recipients who may be eligible for a state matching grant of up to $50,000 per project.

"This grant program builds upon Illinois' reputation as a haven for the brightest minds and innovators by investing in small businesses on the cutting-edge of emerging technologies," said DCEO Director Sylvia I. Garcia. "R&D funding is one of the most expensive costs for small businesses; by providing matching grants, the state is accelerating innovation and technological advances made by Illinois entrepreneurs."

Illinois companies who have received SBIR or STTR represent a broad array of companies working on technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing, battery technology, nanoengineering, biotechnologies and much more.

"Matching SBIR/STTR grants invest in small businesses that are working with cutting-edge research, powering the jobs of the future," said State Rep. Justin Slaughter (D-Chicago). "I'm proud that my legislation to help Illinois businesses thrive is taking shape, and I look forward to its success."

"My priority is building strong communities, and that includes creating good jobs and sustainable economic opportunities. As we crafted the legislation for matching SBIR/STTR I couldn't think of a program with a higher return on our investment," said State Senator Elgie Sims (D-Chicago). "Innovation is not easy, but the benefits which come from creating an environment that celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit and the economic opportunities, jobs, networks, and ideas that come from building a culture of exploration is incalculable."

"Illinois is the home to several major research institutions that provide a home base for some of the best research and development in the world," said State Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Urbana). "I look forward to seeing the many businesses that started as ideas in the research lab become successful employers with help from this grant opportunity."

"Innovation is in Illinois' DNA. The SBIR/STTR Matching program captures that spirit and invests in the state's future by providing startup life sciences companies with the boost they need to turn their innovative ideas into life-saving products," said John Conrad, President & CEO of iBIO, "We thank the leadership of Governor Pritzker, DCEO Director Sylvia Garcia, State Sen. Elgie Sims, State Rep. Justin Slaughter and State Rep. Carol Ammons for launching the SBIR/STTR Matching Program and investing in Illinois' future."

"The SBIR program is an ideal source of seed funding to innovative research at technology startup companies, especially those emerging from the strong research universities and federal labs in Illinois. The FAST Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign provides free assistance to entrepreneurs across Illinois to learn about funding opportunities and provide support for companies to write their proposals and form their operational plans to successfully meet their criteria of the awarding federal agencies," said Laura Appenzeller, Executive Director of the University of Illinois Research Park.

DCEO is currently accepting applications from businesses who have received a Phase I federal SBIR/STTR grant award. Applicants are eligible to receive up to $50,000 in matching grants, with the option to re-apply and receive up to five awards for each federal Phase I award received (one per fiscal year). Awards will be granted on a first-come-first-serve and rolling basis. Interested companies can learn more here.

With world-class national labs, universities, and leadership in the life sciences industry, quantum and other critical emerging technologies, Illinois is a regional and national innovation hub. The State of Illinois has prioritized supporting innovation in key industries, including a $15 million investment in building state-of-the-art Manufacturing Training Academies, $15.4 million for eight wet labs to increase access to modern lab space, and $200 million for quantum computing research. The state has also prioritized various programs to support small businesses, such as the Angel Investment Program, which incentivizes investors to support start-ups, as well as programs such as Advantage Illinois, which provides low-interest loans to small businesses.

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