The nation’s booming economy is buoyed by small business innovators who are looking to turn a big idea into an American success story.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s National SBIR Road Tour is coming to El Paso Aug. 13 as part of a 16-stop tour to connect entrepreneurs working on advanced technology to 11 federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health.

Also known as America’s Seed Fund, the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs focus on next-generation research and development and are led by the SBA.

Each year, these agencies award more than $3 billion in seed funds to over 5,000 high-tech research and development firms. Elizabeth Valenti, president of WorldWinds, Inc. is a recipient of one of these awards.

Armed with an engineering background, Valenti received funding to develop technology that has equipped NASA and FEMA with high quality remotely sensed weather data to help commercial aircraft navigate better during inclement weather.

When Hurricane Irma hit Puerto Rico, WorldWinds technology helped a commercial aircraft navigate in Category 5 hurricane winds, carrying 173 passengers to safety.

Valenti said she owes a large part of her small business success to SBIR funding.

The stop in El Paso will be hosted by the Small Business Development Center at the University of Texas at San Antonio in partnership with the SBDC at El Paso Community College.

Program managers from the participating federal agencies will conduct one-on-one meetings with entrepreneurs, take part in targeted panels, discuss technology areas and share insights into how the agencies make funding decisions.

Funding takes the form of contracts or grants and the awardee projects must have the potential for commercialization while meeting specific government R&D requirements.

It’s time to take your idea to the next level to help build a strong national economy, increase global competitiveness and contribute to the creation of good-paying jobs.


Justin Crossie is the regional administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s South Central Region.

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