Tech Entrepreneurs hear about funding opportunities

Dec 16, 2022

A small group of Maui County tech entrepreneurs participated in the Maui Innovation Summit on Wednesday December 14 to hear about funding opportunities for new innovations. Presented by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) in association with NAVSEA (Naval Seas Systems Command), presentations from the New Mexico SBIR/STTR Innovation Summit were livestreamed to the in-person gathering at the Maui Research and Technology Center.

Small business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs fund a diverse portfolio of startups and small businesses across technology areas and markets to stimulate technological innovation, meet Federal research and development (R&D) needs, and increase commercialization to transition R&D into impact.

The event was specifically for entrepreneurs looking for research and development funding vehicles for their technology-based ideas. Adrienne McClellan, M CTR (USA) with the NAVSEA SBIR/STTR program, gave a small opening presentation to provide attendees with specific details on the NAVSEA opportunities. In addition, she, and her sister, Alexis McClellan (also with NAVSEA) conducted one-on-one meetings with attendees interested in knowing more about the program.

Adrienne McClellan leads a presentation on NAVSEA SBIR/STTR programs at the Maui Innovation Summit
New Mexico SBIR/STTR Innovation Summit was livestreamed to the in-person gathering

“It was a great opportunity to make personal connections with the entrepreneurs, inventors and problem solvers of the Maui small business community,” said Adrienne. “There seemed to be great interest in the SBIR program overall and desire from attendees to expand the Maui County economy.”

Other federal government organizations that featured during the livestream summit included Air Force Research Laboratories (AFRL), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and many more. Organizations announced their topics – areas they were specifically looking to find solutions for and attract submissions – as well as sharing how their programs worked.

Bodgan Udrea, Chief Engineer with VisSidus Techologies, Inc. shared his biggest takeaway for the day: “The fact that the Navy and their topics are written in conjunction with people who manage them on their systems. We have found that not all the SBIR’s we have applied to have all those facts or are that clear. In this case, it helps us get in the mind of the end-user.”

“It was an interesting session with new information. The program always changes and evolves,” said Ned Davis, CEO of Maui Innovation Group, who already has six to seven SBIR’s under his belt.  “We are looking for a home for our big invention. It was under an Air Force SBIR but Navy looks like a better home for it and the one-on-one meeting will help us to work that out.”

MEDB is a nonprofit corporation established in 1982 with a mission to lead and inspire innovation in business, education, and community. Supporting the growth of Maui County-based businesses is at the heart of MEDB’s mission to promote a robust and diversified economy and build a resident workforce with the skills to participate fully. In that spirit, MEDB’s Business Assistance program focuses on providing various services for businesses large and small, including one-on-one consultations, training, networking events, and an evolving array of in-person and virtual workshops.