Samueli School Partners with OCTANe to Encourage SBIR Grant Applicants

Matthew JenusaitisOCTANe and the Samueli School partnered to present a workshop on how to go after small business government grants for innovation research (SBIR) and technology transfer (STTR). The second in a three-part grant development series, the workshop drew nearly 50 people including professors, graduate students, industry professionals and entrepreneurs.

“Over the past few years, government grant funding for innovative research and technology in Orange County has been significantly less than either San Diego or Los Angeles counties,” explains Matthew Jenusaitis, OCTANe president and CEO.  “That’s not because there is less technology here, but rather, because Orange County needs to be more active in pursuing these federal sources of early stage capital.  The goal of this program series is to increase the awareness, provide education, and stimulate action to close the gap.”

The June session was designed to facilitate alliances between university researchers and private sector entrepreneurs and business people. Speakers addressed the licensing process, university partnership agreements, building the right team, selecting the right granting agency, grant writing and interpreting an RFP. 

One of the speakers, David Cuccia, who earned his doctorate in biomedical engineering at UC Irvine, shared his story of successfully working with UCI to win multiple government grants and start his own business.David Cuccia

“Alvin Viray (UC Irvine’s Office of Technology Alliances’ senior licensing officer) taught me how to write my first proposal,” said Cuccia, CTO and CEO of Modulated Imaging, which is developing a non-invasive tissue imaging system for assessment of tissue health during surgery and wound care. He developed the underlying technology as the subject of his dissertation, and has raised approximately $6.5 million in SBIR/STTR grants and contracts in collaboration with UC Irvine faculty. “The opportunity to work with UCI and collaborate with faculty here has been fantastic.”

Other speakers included Kari Barnes, attorney and senior associate with Rutan and Tucker; Bruce Morgan, assistant vice chancellor of UCI Research Administration; Goran Matijasevic, senior assistant vice chancellor, alumni anKari Barnesd constituent relations; among others.

“This workshop as part of the SBIR/STTR campaign is strategic to the Samueli School of Engineering for several reasons,” says William Tang, professor and associate dean for research. “It opens up additional funding venues to sustain and expand our research innovations. It also provides a forum for the school to build tangible relationships with industries to transfer our technical innovations into the real world and form partnerships to pursue other funding opportunities beyond SBIR/STTR.”

The workshop wrapped up with time for the attendees to network and share their tales of success and failure at applying for government grants. Jenusaitis told the group, “Last time we did this, we actually had people form teams and go on to work together on a project.”