As I noted in my March 1 Open Mike post NIH Stands Against Structural Racism in Biomedical Research, the NIH seeks to do its part to end structural racism and to ensure greater diversity in all aspects of the biomedical workforce. One longstanding area of concern has been our small business programs, which account for over $1 Billion in annual investments. Unfortunately, entrepreneur scientists from diverse backgrounds remain under-represented in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.
We are working to identify ways to lower barriers for all new applicants to the NIH SBIR and STTR programs. Conferences have the ability to bring people together expressly to share perspectives and exchange expertise, including the lessons of personal experience. That is why I am pleased to announce as a first step in addressing these concerns we will be sponsoring the 2021 HHS Small Business Program Conference with the theme “Diverse Perspectives SEEDing Impactful Innovations.” The meeting will take place virtually April 26-30 and registration is free.
The conference will be held under the auspices of SEED, the new NIH office focused on Small business Education and Entrepreneurial Development. We plan an introduction to the plethora of resources and biomedical product development tools that SEED has to offer to the small business community, with particular focus on the wider series of initiatives at NIH aimed at diversifying the biomedical workforce.
Other informative session topics will include:
- Diversity and Bias-Perceptions and Reality
- Secrets to a Successful Submission
- Persistence is Key: Resources for Resubmission
- Entrepreneurs in Action: Stories of Success
- Beyond Research: Building a Business
The last two days of the meeting will provide opportunities for you to schedule individual meetings with federal program staff who can provide personalized guidance on how best to move your small business grant application, SBIR or STTR, forward and point you toward other resources that may be available.
We are committed to holding ourselves to the same standards that we published in guide notice (NOT-OD-21-053) for conference grant applicants and recipients, which describes plans to enhance diversity by increasing the participation of individuals from diverse backgrounds in all aspects of the conference. We hope you will join us for this important and informative event.