National SBIR Conference to be Held in OKC

The Small Business Innovation Research program will host their national conference in Oklahoma City November 8-10.  This is an excellent opportunity for researchers and small businesses to learn more about securing development capital from the $2 billion annual program.

The federal SBIR program is a highly specialized form of funding for small, advanced technology firms to perform cutting-edge research and development that addresses the nation’s most critical scientific and engineering needs. The National SBIR Conference will be held November 8-10 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. To learn more about the conference or to register, visit

Bear Runyan ran a successful small business, manufacturing cattle feeders in Mill Creek, OK. But when his company received more than $400,000 in federal grant money to research how to improve one of their feeders, the future growth potential of 3C Cattle Feeders stretched beyond his expectations.

More than 500 people are expected to attend the conference where small businesses from across the state and country can learn about the application process, hear from businesses that have been awarded SBIR funding, meet with agencies that administer the funding and hear what they are looking for in an application.

The Small Business Administration coordinates the SBIR program which is funded by 2.5 percent of the total extramural research budgets of federal agencies. Small businesses with fewer than 500 employees with a research project that has the potential for commercialization can apply for funding through one of 11 federal agencies including: the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration or National Science Foundation.

With the assistance of Oklahoma State University New Product Development Center, 3C Cattle Feeders has been the recipient of three SBIR grants that are allowing the company to modify one of its traditional cattle feeders to deter wild hogs and other animals from stealing food and spreading diseases. Current cattle feeders do not have a way to keep out other animals.

“Ranchers often don’t realize the amount of feed that is lost to hogs and other wild animals,” said Runyan. “We didn’t know the full extent of it until we started working with OSU monitoring cattle feeders in the field with 24-hour video equipment. The stolen feed really adds up financially and is a problem seen all across the country.”

Through a connection with the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance, 3C Cattle Feeders was introduced to the OSU New Product Development Center. The center has worked with them to improve their current product line, develop the idea, write the SBIR grants, conduct the research after the company received the grant and create a business plan to market the new feeders once they are developed.

“While the SBIR funding enables a company to do things a small business could never dream of doing on their own, the real benefit comes from working through the process,” said Dr. Daniel Tilley with the OSU New Product Development Center. “The process of applying for the grant makes a company start thinking differently about how they do business, how to improve their products and how to fulfill a need in the market.”

In addition to winning two large federal SBIR grants, 3C Cattle Feeders also benefited from state funding through the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Because the SBIR application is time consuming, requiring staff time to complete the grants, OCAST provides bridge funding to financially help a company through the application process.