Empowering Utah’s Entrepreneurs: SBIR/STTR Grants, Utah Innovation Center, and the Utah Innovation Fund

Jackie BorgetUtah Innovation Center

In the technological advancement landscape, few resources are as beneficial as the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs branded as America’s Seed Fund. These federal programs provide critical funding and support to small businesses with groundbreaking ideas, catalyzing innovation across industries. 

Over the last 15 years, the Utah Innovation Center (formerly the Utah SBIR Center) has assisted small businesses across the state in competing for and winning this research and development funding to advance innovative technologies. In 2022, 80% of SBIR/STTR dollars awarded to Utah companies were to current and former clients of the Utah Innovation Center.

Many Utah startups have harnessed the power of SBIR/STTR grants to develop technology and build their business with remarkable results, including three companies receiving investment from the Utah Innovation Fund, all of which are clients of the Innovation Center.

Inherent Biosciences, Rebel Medicine, and 3Helix were awarded a collective $700,000 from the Utah Innovation Fund, a venture capital fund backed by the state of Utah. The Innovation Fund identifies Utah companies that are solving complex problems through innovative solutions and provides funding and support to ensure their success. 

“The Utah Innovation Fund is deeply committed to fostering the advancement of pioneering technologies, and these companies have made significant strides in the field of biomedical Innovation,” said Jefferson Moss, Associate Commissioner of Innovation, Commercialization and Economic Development with the Utah System of Higher Education. “We are grateful for early investments made by the Utah Innovation Center that were critical to its success.” 

The ingenuity and potential of these three remarkable startups was recognized:

Inherent Biosciences stands on the frontier of biotechnology, specializing in epigenetic medicine for complex diseases. Through its pioneering epigenetic platform, it aims to revolutionize diagnostics and therapeutics. Inherent Biosciences’ groundbreaking work in accurately diagnosing male infertility, exemplified by their Sperm Quality Test (SpermQT), has garnered attention and accolades. The company secured multiple SBIR grants, including two SBIR Phase I awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), propelling its mission to improve the standard of care in infertility diagnosis.

Rebel Medicine is tackling the opioid crisis head-on with its innovative approach to post-operative pain management. Its product, Alevatrix, offers a long-lasting, non-opioid alternative for pain relief, providing a safer and more effective solution for patients. The company received support from the National Science Foundation through SBIR Phase I and II funding, further validating the potential impact of its breakthrough technology.

3Helix represents the convergence of biomedical engineering and regenerative medicine, addressing critical issues related to collagen damage. Its bioACTIVE CHPs technology offers a promising solution to promote tissue regeneration and repair. 3Helix secured NIH SBIR Phase I and II awards, validating the efficacy of its proprietary technology in facilitating cellular responses and restoring damaged collagen.

These success stories underscore the critical role of SBIR/STTR funding and state support that can empower startups to translate bold ideas into tangible solutions with real-world impact. Utah’s entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to thrive, fueled by the ingenuity of companies like Inherent Biosciences, Rebel Medicine, and 3Helix. The SBIR/STTR programs, the Utah Innovation Center, and the Utah Innovation Fund remain indispensable catalysts for progress and prosperity.

Companies interested in pursuing non-dilutive R&D funding through the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs can contact the Utah Innovation Center at innovationutah@utah.gov. 

For companies interested in applying for funding from the Utah Innovation Fund, please visit https://www.utahinnovationfund.com/.