Kentucky SBIR/STTR program awards $1.5M to tech startups

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Five high-tech startups will be awarded more than $1.5 million under a Kentucky effort to nurture innovation and attract technology-based small businesses to the state.

The companies receiving awards include:

  • Gismo Therapeutics, a Lexington-based company that recently relocated from New York. The company is developing a class of small molecule therapeutics to disrupt the inflammation cycle of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Hera Testing Labs, a company developing laboratory and animal tests to make the drug development process more accurate, cost effective and predictive. The company’s technologies aim to identify problems with new drug formulations earlier in the development process before proceeding to more costly animal or human studies.
  • Lakota Technical Solutions, Inc., a Howard, Maryland, company relocating to Kentucky. Lokota is developing a software-based tool to more accurately and efficiently simulate electronic warfare scenarios.
  • TherapyX, Inc., a New York-based pharmaceutical company relocating to Louisville. The company is developing a novel drug delivery system for a gonorrhea vaccine.
  • TutorGen has created LOGIC (Linkage Objects for Generalized Instruction in Coding) to help bridge the gap for new students trying to learn coding. LOGIC is an intelligent tutor that helps people learn programming, helps them through difficult exercises and keeps them engaged.

The awards are funded through the state’s competitive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Matching Funds program. Since the program’s inception in 2006, the state has matched all or parts of federal SBIR/STTR awards received by Kentucky-based companies. Out-of-state companies are also eligible for funding should they decide to relocate to Kentucky.

“Each of these companies is working to develop technologies that are of great importance and will contribute to an improved way of life,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “It is a great advantage for the state to be able to support these companies and welcome those interested in relocating to Kentucky to capitalize on our unparalleled match funding program.”

Over the past nine years, Kentucky’s SBIR/STTR program has awarded more than $53 million to support 107 local companies. These businesses have received an additional $94 million in federal funding. As of today, 38 companies have located, or are planning to relocate, their businesses to take advantage of Kentucky’s unique matching program.

Eligible high-tech companies can apply for the federal grants in two phases. Businesses in the concept or feasibility phase can apply for phase one funding, while companies in full-scale research and development can request phase two assistance.

Kentucky’s competitive program matches federal phase grants up to $150,000 for one year and phase two funding up to $500,000 annually for two years. Funds are awarded on a quarterly basis. Kentucky is the only state that matches phase two awards at this level.

Kentucky’s unique funding program has grown substantially since 2006 and has led to an increase in the number of companies pursuing SBIR/STTR grants and out-of-state businesses relocating to the state to capitalize on the funding opportunity. Currently, Kentucky ranks 27th in the nation, based on the amount of federal funding received compared to 42nd in 2006 ( Since the start of the fund matching program, Kentucky businesses have achieved a higher success rate in receiving federal SBIR/STTR grants compared to the national average.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development manages the Kentucky SBIR-STTR Matching Funds program, which is administered under contract by the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC). KSTC accepts applications for the program four times per year. A link to the online guidelines and application form for the Kentucky program are posted here.

Source: Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development

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Jeannie Oliver

Jeannie Oliver is a writer and PR practitioner with a long string of awards behind her name. With a degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma, Jeannie has worked as a high school journalism teacher, an editor for the Appaloosa Journal, and a media spokesperson for...