By: Safa Amiri, CTO and Founder of NiekAab Desal
I am Safa Amiri, a Ph.D. Candidate in Chemical Engineering and the Founder and CTO of NiekAab Desal which is focused on producing pure water using biowaste. My company was among the 16 Most Wanted Companies for GAIN Shootout, 2017. I am grateful that I was awarded the Deep Dive Grant which helped me attend the STTR/SBIR Innovation Summit in Tampa, Fl. Raising seed capital is of a significant concern for all entrepreneurs. As SBIR and STTR grants are one of the great resources for early-stage startups, most entrepreneurs do their best to attend the Annual SBIR/STTR Summit to make connections with the program leaders and learn about the topics of interest for different federal agencies. During the course of the Summit, I had a chance to meet 1:1 with the program directors at NSF, USDA, DOD, DOE, EPA, NOAA, NASA, and USPTO and received fruitful insights from the program directors. I could learn which federal agency is interested in my technology and whom I should contact within the appropriate divisions prior to submitting my SBIR/STTR proposal. In addition, my attendance at this conference resulted in several business connections and the funding resources at national laboratories across the U.S.
The major difference between the SBIR/STTR Summit and other conferences that I have been to was that the SBIR/STTR Summit was focused on grants and resources for entrepreneurs rather than being just focused on academic presentations/posters. Not only it was a great event for the entrepreneurs, but also many faculties from different universities have attended to learn about innovative ideas that the federal agencies are interested in which would help them focus on the proposals that have a high potential for commercialization before submitting it to any federal agency.
Last but not least, I really appreciate that we have GAIN here in Gainesville which provides entrepreneurs with all necessary tools they need to succeed in their journey.