FAST Center at Illinois: SBIR Resources

FAST Center at Illinois: SBIR Resources 5 FAST Center at Illinois: SBIR Resources

FAST (Federal and State Technology) Partnership Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Securing federal grant funding for your innovative idea or technology is a critical step towards commercial success. The SBIR and STTR programs, often referred to as “America’s Seed Fund,” are an excellent source of undiluted funding, but are highly competitive. The FAST Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign provides the resources, support, and expertise necessary to submit a highly competitive proposal – and helps startups and companies bridge the gap between research and commercialization.

Why Work with FAST Center of Illinois at EnterpriseWorks

Increase Your Chance of Acquiring Significant Funds
We have helped companies acquire millions of dollars in federal SBIR/STTR funding – at no cost whatsoever to them. We do not take equity or charge fees to access SBIR support resources.

The FAST Center program offers FREE technical assistance, mentoring, and training to technology entrepreneurs seeking to secure SBIR/STTR funding across the State of Illinois.

Subscribe to our FAST Partnership at EnterpriseWorks Newsletter. 

What the FAST Center at Illinois Offers

Office Hours

The FAST Center offers weekly office hours available by appointment (click here) to answer your questions about the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Teams can ask about the SBIR/STTR proposal process, which agencies are a good fits for projects, and ways to enhance their SBIR/STTR proposal packages. Bring your questions, and get them answered.  If you cannot find an available appointment that fits your schedule please contact Shelley Maves at

One-on-One Technical Assistance

Entrepreneurs, researchers, and inventors throughout the State of Illinois are eligible for FREE one-on-one technical assistance to learn about SBIR funding opportunities, get help with the application process, and assistance with budgets and other technical details. Request a meeting with an expert.

Events and Workshops

Through the FAST Partnership Program, we offer a series of beginner and advanced workshops for those interested in pursuing SBIR/STTR awards. See our calendar for updated information as they become available.

We offer an hour “introductory” SBIR 101 workshop on the  fourth Wednesday of the month (see our calendar for how to sign in).

We also offer more in-depth workshops, “sprints,” that are designed to help applicants prepare a more cohesive and substantive SBIR/STTR grant application. See our calendar for how to register.

Recent recordings of workshops are available on our YouTube channel.

SBIR Sprints

The federal government seeks small high technology firms with the R&D capabilities, internal and external, to deliver a technologically advanced solution for problems. It is vitally important to understand this landscape before investing time and money to seek funding.

Recent Event Videos/Slides:

FAST Center YouTube Playlist

Spring SBIR Sprint Recap

  • Session 1: April 21: Overview and Checklist, Topic Selection, Value Proposition (SBIR 101 Basics), SBIR readiness. Watch the video.
  • Session 2: April 28: Customer Discovery Plan, Commercialization Plan, Letters of Support. Watch the video.
  • Session 3: May 5: Budgeting, Proposal Workplan, Formatting and Graphics. Watch the video.
  • Session 4: May 12: Technical Objectives, Key Personnel, Principal Investigator Selection, Phase 2. Watch the video.

SBIR Workshops Recap

  • Wednesday, May 19, 2021:  NSF Proposal Pitch presented by Kris Parmelee View the Slides. 

    The Consultants

Roland Garton, Garton Consulting Services 

Roland Garton is President and Lead Consultant of Garton Consulting Services, Inc. He has over four decades of experience with grant development, government contracting, program and project management, training and documentation, and program administration.

Roland has written or advised on scores of SBIR proposals worth several million dollars to 9 of the 11 federal SBIR-granting agencies. He has also managed several projects resulting from successful SBIR proposals. In addition, he has set up bookkeeping and timekeeping systems for many SBIR recipients, prepared invoices and Incurred Cost Proposals, and helped navigate multiple companies through federal audits, many of them conducted by the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA).

Anna Lisa Somera, ALS Consulting 

Anna Lisa is an experienced medical device consultant, venture capitalist, intellectual property analyst, technology transfer specialist, biomedical researcher, and entrepreneur specializing in early-stage, cutting-edge technology businesses. She has been part of the entrepreneurial community in Illinois for 14 years and has helped drive the formation and raised angel and venture funding for several startup companies while also serving as top management for many of the ventures.

Somera’s advising adds up to over thirty million dollars in grants to date, mostly for Illinois companies. Her multi-disciplinary academic preparation in business, public health, and cell biology, along with her strong ties to the University of Illinois, has aided in her success in the entrepreneurial community. Additionally, Somera serves as an SBIR/STTR grant consultant at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and Argonne National Laboratory.

Kris Parmelee, Parmelee Consulting Group

Kristen (Kris) Parmelee is a proud graduate of Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). She started her career at an Indianapolis-based nonprofit in program development and management. After gaining initial experience in fund raising, Kris launched her own venture in 2000 with a focus on private foundation and federal grants. In 2005, she expanded her experience to include SBIR/STTR and for the past five years, has focused almost exclusively on SBIR/STTR and project management services.

FAST Center Frequently Asked Questions

Please check out our highly detailed FAQ document, which is available for download: FAST Center FAQ  (Last updated 4.26.21)

FAST at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

The FAST Partnership Program at the University of Illinois is led by EnterpriseWorks at the University of Illinois Research Park. Funding support for the program is provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration under the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program award.

For more information or questions, please contact Shelley Maves, Illinois FAST Center Manager,  at

Upcoming Events

Elements of an NIH SBIR/STTR Proposal: Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Time: 12-1pm CST

A high-level overview of all of the required sections for an NIH Phase I. Includes an in-depth discussion of the Specific Aims and Research Strategy and an overview of other supporting documents (biosketch, human subjects, vertebrate animals, budgets, abstract, etc.)

Register in advance for this meeting.


Post-Award Management: Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Time: 12-1pm CST

Covers developing good business practices, time keeping requirements, reporting requirements, avoiding fraud, etc.

Register in advance for this meeting.

SBIR Technical Assistance Program

FAST Center at Illinois: SBIR Resources 6 FAST Center at Illinois: SBIR Resources

Request Assistance


Since the EnterpriseWorks incubator opened in the Research Park , funding has become further fueled in this small technology cluster area in Champaign County, with up to 25% of all State of Illinois SBIR/STTR funding being awarded to its companies or graduates annually. SBIR/STTR funding plays an increasingly important role for Research Park small businesses as they require no repayment or loss of equity.

These grant awards are often compatible with the company’s mission and will help fund further research and development. There are several different factors to consider when seeking out grants such as the grant’s timeline, requirements, and how appropriate it is for your business.

These programs award $2 billion dollars annually to qualified small businesses across the nation for innovative projects that meet specific federal needs. Entrepreneurs receive anywhere from $150,000 to $1 million in capital. Awards are based on small business qualifications, degree of innovation, technical merit and future market potential.

The SBIR technical assistance program offers free guidance, training, and workshops for small businesses interested in submitting proposals for SBIR and STTR. Program managers assist with applications, search solicitations, funding, budgeting, commercialization plans, and award agreements.

The EnterpriseWorks incubator offers Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) technical assistance and counseling for entrepreneurs in East Central Illinois through the EAA Illinois University Incubator Network and to entrepreneurs throughout Illinois via the Illinois FAST program. 

Past Workshops

More Resources

SBIR Workshop Series

Upcoming Events

Sample SBIR Funding Application

Past Workshops

SBIR/STTR Technical Assistance

This program encourages entrepreneurs to apply for federal grants.