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Can $13M change the distribution pattern for NIH SBIR awards?

January 03, 2019

A significant majority of SBIR and STTR grants awarded to small businesses from the National Institutes of Health in any given year end up in just a handful of states. For example, the percentage of all 2017 SBIR/STTR awards made to companies in the 23 states and Puerto Rico eligible to participate for funding from NIH’s Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program was only 8 percent – 97 of the 1,218 awards made across all phases of both innovation funding programs.  For comparison, the same states account for 15.8 percent of the estimated U.S. population in 2017. NIH wants to change that discrepancy.

To help increase the share of awards  in under-represented states, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences has made four awards, totaling $2 million, to support the creation of one accelerator hub in each of four regions to “provide infrastructure and expertise, and produce educational tools (e.g., curricula, texts, webinars) through the development and testing of models to accelerate technology transfer that are needed to promote commercialization of academic research and to build an entrepreneurial culture at IDeA institutions.” As well as those goals, each hub is intended to serve businesses with SBIR/STTR assistance in the partner states in their region.


Each “Regional Technology Transfer Accelerator Hub for IDeA States” has a small business partner as a co-lead to serve their region to provide private sector commercialization expertise.  The four awards went to:

  • Northeast: DRIVEN: Accelerating Medical Entrepreneurship in the Northeast, Celdara Medical, LLC, Lebanon, New Hampshire, with University of Vermont, Burlington
  • Central: The Sustainable Heartland Accelerator Regional Partnership Hub, BBC Entrepreneurial Training and Consulting, LLC, Chelsea, Michigan, with University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City
  • Western: Accelerating Solutions for Commercialization and Entrepreneurial Development in the Mountain West IDeA States, Virtici, LLC, Seattle, with University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque
  • Southeastern: Southeast Xlerator Network, XLerateHealth, LLC, Kentucky, with University of Kentucky, Lexington

Depending on funds availability, the four awards may receive a total of $13 million over the three years of the project, according the NIGMS announcement.

The network of NIH-funded hubs may serve as resources for collaboration or technical assistance to the goals of technology-based economic development efforts in the IDeA states.  More information on the program is available here.


sbir, awards, nih