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SBCD

The building that houses the Southern Illinois Research Park is pictured in February 2015.

CARBONDALE — The Southern Illinois Research Park has received a $50,000 growth accelerator award from the U.S. Small Business Administration to support women entrepreneurs.

The award is part of $3 million the SBA allocated across 39 states and territories to support startups and entrepreneurs researching and developing STEM-related innovations, company formation, and awareness and education on the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. Notably, the prizes are not for direct investing in the entrepreneurs’ small businesses.

“We are so excited to have the opportunity to work with the U.S. Small Business Administration on our Growth Accelerator program for the region,” Lynn Andersen Lindberg, Southern Illinois Research Park executive director, said. “The award funds will allow us to build upon successful business development and technology entrepreneurship programs and engage more individuals and entrepreneurs in STEM-related research innovations and start-up activities in Southern Illinois.”

The Research Park is a nonprofit, university-related organization affiliated with SIU Carbondale, serving the needs of university spin-outs and emerging/expanding technology-based organizations south of Interstate 64. Its mission is to establish and support an environment to foster innovation, commercialize university discoveries, and advance entrepreneurship and economic development within SIU and throughout the region.

Deborah Barnett, Research Park associate director, will serve as the day-to-day manager and primary trainer for the program.

“Although Illinois is not an underrepresented state as it related to SBIR/STTR funding, the southernmost part of the state has not had the same success. The SBA Growth Accelerator Fund will be instrumental to changing this,” Barnett said.

Rob Scott, SBA Great Lakes regional administrator, said the $50,000 award to supplement the research park’s training budget is “geared to provide focused assistance for specific entrepreneurial groups.”

“In turn, we aim to increase the pipeline of future SBIR/STTR applications and STEM-related innovations that will continue to advance this country and revitalize communities,” he said.

This year’s award recipients are to focus at least 60% of their competition-related work on entrepreneurs who are either women, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, in states that receive less than 50% of the total annual SBIR/STTR funding, or are in an Opportunity Zone.

Expert panels with entrepreneurial, investment, startup, economic development, and academic backgrounds from the public and private sectors judged the approximately 200 applications for Growth Accelerator awards by reviewing each applicant’s brief presentation deck and optional two-minute video that outlined the organization’s overall approach, experience working with the targeted entrepreneur group and key evaluation metrics for the proposed plan.

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