From 2010-2020, the government awarded ~$30 billion in SBIR/STTR grants – West Virginia received ~$40 million. Here’s how WV increases that figure.
What’s The Issue For WV?
Before getting into why West Virginia has fallen behind and what Vertx Partners is doing to fix it, we first need to explain how this issue is affecting the state as a whole. Let’s briefly talk about Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants.
When it comes to the world of research and development (R&D), the federal government’s SBIR & STTR grants are “America’s seed fund.” These competitive programs place an obvious emphasis on America’s small businesses and their capacity for commercializing emerging technologies.
Startups looking for the funds to break into R&D should focus on these programs; with federal agencies ranging from the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and even NASA participating, there are ample funding opportunities for a wide range of projects. These programs allow anyone with a good idea and a sound business plan to secure competitive funding for their efforts – in states where scarce funding is available, the promise of federal awards is tantalizing.
Just how much was awarded over the past decade? Between 2010 and 2020, nearly $30 billion in SBIR/STTR grants were awarded to businesses, research institutions, and non-profits all around the country. California secured $6 billion alone, a sizable chunk that overshadows every other state. But how much were West Virginian businesses awarded? Just $40 million.
That’s a little over one-tenth of a percentage point of the pie. You don’t need to be a statistician to notice the massive disparity.
How Does WV Compare to its Neighbors?
West Virginia sits at the bottom by a wide margin compared to its neighboring states. Additionally, West Virginia’s $40 million is spread across just 19 companies with about 2,500 total employees: that’s about 0.3% of the average WV workforce over that decade.
The neighboring state of Kentucky was awarded a fraction of, for example, Ohio, but its companies are still receiving nearly five times the amount West Virginia is. Kentucky is also home to a robust aerospace and aeronautics economy that regularly exports billions of dollars in materials, so its location doesn’t preclude it from making strides in R&D.
Why Isn’t WV Receiving Its Proportional Amount?
The problem in the Mountain State isn’t its location; what the state has lacked is investment, awareness, and the means to succeed. Many states in the Upper Midwest of the U.S. (like Wyoming and the Dakotas) have similarly low award numbers, indicating shrinking populations and overall lack of urban development play a role as well.
|State||Awarded (2010-2020)||Avg. Award Amount Per Grant|
|North Carolina||$825.5 million||$518.8K|
|South Carolina||$132.3 million||$472.5K|
|West Virginia||$40.8 million||$491.4K|
This is one of the reasons Vertx Partners was founded. The lack of federal funds flowing into the state prompted the non-profit Parallax Advanced Research to tap Sean Frisbee to lead the effort. Vertx CEO and Retired Air Force Colonel Sean Frisbee is no stranger to research and development. While working for the United States Air Force, he served as the F-22 Systems Program Director, a $4 billion per year program that oversaw the continued development of the Department of Defense’s 5th generation air superiority fighter.
With his leadership and industry expertise, Sean and his team of insiders work to give West Virginian businesses a leg up in applying for federal funding. In the long term, this perspective shift can give many West Virginians the knowledge and confidence they need to secure much-needed financial backing.
What Is Being Done to Help WV?
The first step is to raise awareness of this issue. If you’re reading this article, you know the potential for R&D in West Virginia is significant. Key Vertx members are speaking to state and national legislative members, business owners, and industry insiders to better position the Appalachian Region for success.
The core tenet of Vertx Partners is – you guessed it – partnering. As word spreads and potential is recognized, Vertx’s network of interested parties grows; with this vast resource of like-minded innovators pooled around a central entity, Vertx can make good on its promise of helping uplift West Virginia’s economy.
This starts small. Our team of insiders begin by getting to know clients, assessing their needs and goals, and pursuing a course of action that will best benefit them. Sometimes this means forming partnerships with other businesses or researchers; other times, this means applying for SBIR/STTR grants that can guarantee a generous seed fund. The end goal is mutual benefit and investment into the future of Appalachian commerce.
Are you interested in securing funding for your R&D efforts? Reach out to Vertx Partners today. It’s completely free and takes about 5 minutes.
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