RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — Life sciences companies in North Carolina that have received federal grants for research and development have until Dec. 1 to apply for matching state funds through the One NC Small Business Program.

The program will match, dollar-for-dollar, up to $100,000, the grants companies received from the federal Phase I Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs between March 1 and Dec. 1.

The state’s General Assembly and Gov. Roy Cooper appropriated $1.5 million to the One NC Small Business Program in September, using federal funds designated to ease the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program funds North Carolina businesses in capital-intensive, high-risk industries in science, technology, engineering and math. It helps small, innovation-based companies bridge the funding gap between innovation and the marketplace by matching highly competitive federal R&D grants.

Funding tied to COVID-19 relief

Because the program’s new funding comes from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) of 2020, applicants must be able to demonstrate how funds will be used “for the mitigation of impacts from COVID-19 to foster job creation and promote research and technological development in response to COVID-19,” according to the program’s solicitation.

However, companies with projects not directly or indirectly addressing COVID-19 are eligible to apply for funding, as long as they can document employment or business interruption due to the pandemic.

Applicants are encouraged to read the solicitation because its requirements are different from previous solicitations, due to the health pandemic and the source of funding, said John Hardin, executive director of the Office of Science, Technology and Innovation within the N.C. Department of Commerce. His office administers the One NC Small Business Program on behalf of the N.C. Board of Science, Technology and Innovation.

Grant applications will be considered and awarded in two groups, depending on their date of submission. The first group is for applications submitted by Nov. 1, and the second is for those submitted between Nov. 2 and Dec. 1.

Applications will be reviewed within one week of submission, with funding decisions coming about a week later.

Since its inception in 2006, the One NC Small Business Program has helped 275 small businesses in 25 counties create and maintain more than 900 jobs and leverage more than $500 million in follow-on funding from other sources, yielding a 20-fold return on state investment, according to a 2017 evaluation of the program’s results.

The program was not funded in 2020, but in 2019 it awarded 25 grants totaling $1.2 million to science and technology companies.

(c) North Carolina Biotechnology Center