BCIC and Texas A&M TEES Commit to a Three-Year, $330,000 Investment through the StartUp Texas SBIR/STTR Program

PRESS RELEASE – Brownsville, TX - Tuesday, August 15, 2023 - A collaborative effort between the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) and the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) received $330,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to fuel innovation, generate jobs, and invigorate the economy in Brownsville and the wider Rio Grande Valley area. The SBA will fund the effort over the next three years through its Startup Texas Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program and Innovation Competition.

Cori Peña, CEO of BCIC, comments, "Forming regional partnerships represents a forward leap for our region. By collectively offering hands-on support and valuable resources, we're paving the way for an exciting new period of growth and prosperity for our innovators and entrepreneurs."

The $330,000 funding, distributed over three years, is meticulously assigned to assure that the Startup Texas SBIR/STTR Program and Innovation Competition effectively champions the future of regional entrepreneurship and innovation. This investment will finance the organization of an annual StartUp Texas pitch event and the preparation of Phase I and II SBIR applications, which concentrate on feasibility and expansion respectively. Moreover, it will facilitate workshops and offer technical support to competition winners, finalists, and local industry partners.

The program, hosted at the newly established eBridge Center for Business and Commercialization, is a testament to the organization's commitment to fostering a rich entrepreneurial ecosystem. BCIC's Director of Business Development Nathan Burkhart expresses, "We're creating an environment that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship. This new iteration of the StartUp Texas program expands access to opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into viable business ventures and make a global impact from a local launch pad.”

The UTRGV Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center will guide nascent companies through growth stages, market research assessment, and financial projection refinement to prepare for Phase 1 and 2 of SBIR applications. Additionally, the funding will keep the momentum going for the operations of the startup incubator and entrepreneurial resource center.

"We're immensely proud to be partnering with BCIC and TEES in this transformative initiative," states Linda Ufland, Director of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Commercialization at URGV ECC. "This program marks a milestone for the entrepreneurial landscape in the Rio Grande

“As a state agency, TEES is committed to turning research and development activities into useful applications and business activities that enhance the economic development of our state and nation,” said Dr. Cindy Lawley, associate agency director for workforce development and regional divisions at TEES. “We are excited to partner with the BCIC and bring this program and innovation competition to the Rio Grande Valley. And we look forward to seeing compelling business plans and pitches from local entrepreneurs.”

Saurabh Biswas, Executive Director for Technology Transition at TEES, shares similar sentiments: "The Startup Texas program is exciting for a number of reasons, including combining the shared knowledge of TEES and its track record of deep-tech innovation success and workforce development programs with the forward-thinking leadership of the Rio Grande Valley. This region of Texas is especially poised to launch globally innovative companies while creating impactful job opportunities; all of which will spur economic growth and prosperity."

The competition portion of the program offers promising startups a chance to win prize money and the Startup Texas SBIR/STTR Seed Grant, providing crucial resources to help businesses develop and scale. As Lenae M. Scroggins, Vice Chair of the Texas A&M New Ventures Competition, says, "The Rio Grande Valley offers a diverse selection of opportunities for deep-tech innovation startups. One of the key components in assisting technology startups is to provide them with not only a forum of expertise in the form of the judging pool of the Competition and mentor network but also provide funding that helps startups bridge critical gaps."

The Startup Texas SBIR/STTR Program and Innovation Competition welcomes applications from businesses operating in the fields of software development, green tech, biotech, heavy manufacturing, energy, and medical innovations. The next competition will take place on Thursday, October 26, 2023. For more information about the program and how to apply, visit www.startuptexas.com or contact Nathan Burkhart at nburkhart@bcic.us. The deadline to apply for StartUp Texas SBIR/STTR is Thursday, August 24, 2023.

If you're interested in attending the next pitch competition as part of the audience, you can also RSVP today by following this link: https://rsvp.startuptexas.com.

SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) and STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) are U.S. government programs designed to foster innovation by encouraging domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research and Development (R/R&D). SBIR focuses on individual small business initiatives, while STTR requires formal collaboration with research institutions. Both programs offer competitive funding to help bridge the gap between initial R&D and commercialization, supporting small businesses through three phases: feasibility study (Phase I), development and scaling (Phase II), and market entry (Phase III). These programs represent essential opportunities for small businesses to explore innovative ideas and bring them to market, reinforcing the nation's commitment to growth and technological advancement.

About StartUp Texas:
StartUp Texas is a seed fund and growth accelerator program under the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) in partnership with the UTRGV Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center, investing in visionary entrepreneurs and passionate leaders in Brownsville and beyond. The initiative offers a dedicated business-building curriculum and a pool of funding opportunities to catalyze local innovators and businesses. For more information, visit www.startuptexas.com.