CLEMSON — More than 70 industry representatives and Clemson University faculty members assembled at the Madren Conference Center to learn how to forge research collaborations funded through Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants.

The Oct. 22 event was the first in the Innovation Series for Partnering Industry with the Research Enterprise (INSPIRE) organized by the Clemson University Research Foundation.

SBIR and STTR grants stimulate the development and private commercialization of technological innovations derived from federal research-and-development funding. The grants pair university faculty with private sector collaborators. About $2.2 billion annually is set aside for these federal funding programs and around 145,000 awards are granted, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Chris Gesswein, executive director of the Clemson University Research Foundation, speaks during the Oct. 22 INPIRE workshop.

Chris Gesswein, executive director of the Clemson University Research Foundation, speaks during the Oct. 22 INSPIRE workshop.

“These grants offer a unique opportunity for Clemson faculty and industry to collaborate, innovate and create real economic impact,” said Chris Gesswein, executive director of the Clemson University Research Foundation.

INSPIRE offers a number of targeted events designed to support and enhance both new and existing relationships between Clemson University’s research enterprise and industrial partners. The SBIR/STTR Workshop offered attendees the opportunity to learn the various aspects of finding, writing and securing SBIR and STTR grants.

“Without question, the INSPIRE initial event exceeded our expectations, and we will carry this momentum of success into the upcoming events,” said Chase Kasper, Clemson University Research Foundation director of business development. “Future events are already in the works in areas such as agribusiness, defense contractors and health care. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from the private sector and our faculty.”

The event featured 3PhaseSC, a resource created by the South Carolina Department of Commerce aimed at assisting South Carolina based companies with successfully acquiring SBIR/STTR funding, who highlighted the countless federal agencies who provide small business funding and the strategies to find and secure that funding.

“I was extremely impressed to learn more about the INSPIRE initiative at Clemson.  The content they put together for this conference was top notch, and the audience was excellent.  I can see INSPIRE leading to strong industry partners, more academic research, and an increase in startup activity,” said Tyler Garmon, 3Phase S.C. program manager and presenter at the SBIR/STTR Workshop.

Additional speakers at the workshop included Clemson Vice President for Research Tanju Karanfil, the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA), i4 Series, Agribusiness Center for Research and Entrepreneurship (ACRE), SCORE, Clemson University Office of Industry Contracts, Clemson University Office of Sponsored Programs, Recovr Inc. and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Clemson faculty and industry representatives attended the INSPIRE workshop.

Clemson faculty and industry representatives attended the INSPIRE workshop.

Of the workshop, Ed Treglia, vice president and general manager of Ulbrich Specialty Wire Products, said, “INSPIRE provided a great forum to bring together small business, industry and research institutes.  Even for a company like Ulbrich, who can’t directly participate in SBIR/STTRs due to our size, INSPIRE was beneficial. We are pleased that CURF has launched the INSPIRE series of events and are looking forward to our continued participation in them.”

Erin Roussey, president of US Building Innovations Inc., deemed the event “an excellent resource for small businesses.”

The Clemson University Research Foundation is working to continually create opportunities to develop and enhance long-term collaborations between the Clemson University research enterprise and industrial partners. In an effort to support this initiative, CURF will be offering more customized INSPIRE events in the near future in areas including, but not limited to, agribusiness and health care.

For more information on INSPIRE and upcoming events, contact cuinspire@clemson.edu.