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Winning Technology and Manufacturing Grants. Entrepreneur MBA Podcast 3.24

Summary: In today’s episode, Micki Vandeloo from Lakeview Consulting and Stephen Halasnik from Financing Solutions discuss how technology and manufacturing companies can receive federal and state grants. These solutions are helping to increase prosperity for current and future American workers through technological and manufacturing efforts.

The New World of Industry Grants

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, supply-chain and other national operational issues have caused an increase in available grants for the manufacturing and technological industries. Most grant opportunities for manufacturing companies have been put into place to combat disruptions in supply-chain operations that occur on national and state levels. Some states have used federally funded grants such as the CARES act to establish various manufacturing grant programs. Kansas, for example, has established manufacturing grants for personal protective equipment (PPE) production and to combat disruptions in the supply chain by re-shoring manufacturing efforts.

Opportunities for technology grants have recently been put into place to support workplace innovation. The pandemic has changed the way that non-profit and for-profit businesses utilize technology, making funding options for innovations in technology a top priority. Most technology grants happen on a federal level

Grant Opportunities for Manufacturing & Technology Companies

For manufacturing and technology companies, funding options are most available for organizations whose proposal involves job creation, investment in capital equipment, and sustainability. Funding options also vary by state and are based off the state’s priorities and/or geographic location i.e., clean energy, rural/urban locations.

As of 2020, President Biden signed the Made in America Executive order which places American manufacturing industries as a key factor that impacts our ability to weather another pandemic. This order can be predicted to lead to bills to be passed that provide funding to support manufacturing industries to help them grow, be resilient, and expand production capacity. This is a political process and will take time, so companies should still be reviewing alternate sources of funding until programs become available.

For-Profit Opportunities

For-profit companies can benefit from the Small Business Innovation Research & Small business technology transfer Funding (SBIR & STTR) that provides tech start-ups with funding for research and development activities. These programs are highly competitive and only about 35 percent of first-time submissions are accepted. For technology grants, the companies that have the most success receiving grants are companies that have some self-funding or seed-funding or have investors on board to be able to sustain their expenses with funding needed to commercialize.

It is harder for manufacturing start-ups to receive funding. Most grant lenders want to see cash flow and financial stability before lending the company money. The Small Business Association (SBA) provides some low-interest loans and loan guarantees for manufacturing start-ups. Most companies need to be out of the start-up phase with a marketable product to receive state grants for training, recycling activities, or capital investment.

Non-Profit Opportunities

For non-profits grants, funding from foundations is limited. Partnerships with For-profit industries can strengthen the proposal from a Non-profit organization, widening the funding landscape.

The National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technology Education program requires partnerships between for-profit and non-profit organizations to receive technology grants. The goal of the program is to engage as many wrap-around services as possible to ensure an outcome is achieved. The overall impact from a proposal is greater with strong partnerships.

What Impacts Grant Availability?

Grant availability heavily depends on the competitive landscape of the industry. Historically, federal grants are more competitive and therefore more difficult to receive. On the other hand, state grants less competitive and awarded more frequently. Timing is also an important factor to consider. Sometimes grant awards are delayed or unavailable until a certain period which can delay an organization’s operations.

How to Increase the Likelihood of Receiving a Grant

  1. Have a solid project design. It is important for applying organization to have a clear vision of what their proposal will solve. For manufacturing industries, most lenders are looking for solutions regarding economic development objectives, i.e., employment, sustainability, or capital investment. Proposals should be fact-based and specific with a clear timeline and a stated outcome.
  2. Be able to answer questions. It is important to have an understanding and communicate effectively with the reviewer of your proposal. Many companies struggle with explaining the commercialization end of their idea. Be sure to use language that both you and the reviewer understand to communicate your idea.
  3. Speak to the program manager. This practice can save money on constructing an appropriate proposal by having your idea reviewed beforehand and provides an idea for how granular the proposal needs to be. Program managers can give organizations the feedback they need to have a successful and impactful project.

About Micki Vandeloo from Lakeview Consulting

 Micki is the President of Lakeview Consulting, Inc., a team of five experienced grant professionals who have collectively obtained over $240 million in grant funding for nonprofit and for-profit clients. Micki has over 15 years of experience performing grant/incentive consulting services for clients in the manufacturing and technology communities, including trade associations, college, and university technical/vocational programs, Manufacturing Extension Partnership Centers, and manufacturing and technology companies. She has personally obtained over $60 million in grant funding for her clients. Micki published the book, “THE For-Profit Grant Writing Guide”, in 2014 and is one of less than 350 Grant Professional Certified writers in the United States. She has been a mentor and coach and volunteers at local nonprofits.

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