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Uncle Sam Wants You Funding from the Small Business Innovation Research program

By Julie B. Davis

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Searching for free money to launch the business of your dreams?You may not find it, but one government program comes close. Eachyear, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program awards$1.1 billion in funding to small businesses on the cutting edge oftechnology.

The main prerequisite for these funds is having an inventiondesired by one of 11 participating government agencies. The SBIRprogram pays you to develop that technology, and you're free toeventually sell the product commercially. For Matthew Schor, 37,president of Eagle Eye Technologies Inc., the SBIR program providedbadly needed seed money. The Herndon, Virginia, company created asatellite tracking system that can pinpoint the geographic locationof a person or object anywhere in the world.

After submitting a detailed proposal to the Defense AdvancedResearch Projects Agency (DARPA), part of the Department of Defense(DOD), Schor received a Phase I grant of $100,000 in July 1994 totest his theories for six months and a Phase II grant in November1995 to develop the technology. Since then, he's received twoSBIR grants from the Air Force: $100,000 in 1998 and $750,000 in1999.

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