Business Oregon has launched a one-time grant program for state businesses to support research and innovation.
The economic development agency will make available a total of $400,000 in grant money to help businesses apply for federal research grants and match any major grants awarded.
“The federal government makes available $2.5 billion each year for small businesses to create new products,” said Ryan Frank, spokesman for Business Oregon. “We want Oregon to get a bigger share of that.”
That federal money is made available through two programs: Small Business Innovation Research, or SBIR, and Small Business Technology Transfer, or STTR.
Together, those programs help small companies and research teams with early stages of innovative research, deemed too risky for other investors.
Business Oregon’s grant program will provide funding in two portions. The first will provide a grant for companies to hire a reviewer, whose sole purpose is to attract larger, more substantial grants.
The second portion will be for the agency to match any grants that are subsequently won. With the $400,000 total fund available, Frank estimated that the first portion could help as many as 20 Oregon companies; the second portion could assist between four and six.
Currently, the program has been established as a one-time thing. But should it prove successful, Frank said, the agency will seek ways to repeat it.
“If a program needs to continue in some form, if it’s a huge success, of course we’ll want to figure out how to support that,” he said.
Through the program, Business Oregon officials hope to address one of the agency’s major priorities: Encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship as a building block for the state’s economic development.
According to California researcher and economist Enrico Moretti, every one job in innovation creates five additional local jobs outside of that industry.
“We’re always looking to see where we can invest a dollar that will give us the biggest return,” Frank said. “The multiplier effect from innovation is large. Investing in innovation grows jobs in Oregon is one of our surest paths to prosperity.”