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.

What  We Offer:

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.

Twice a month, we offer an hour “introductory” SBIR 101 workshop on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month (see our calendar for how to sign in).

Office Hours: Have a quick question? Don’t know if this program is right for you? Want to get a second pair of eyes on your application? Wondering if your company is ready to apply for an SBIR award? We offer office hours with our team of SBIR experts. Request a meeting with an expert.

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. See our calendar for updated information as they become available.

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.

WHO IS 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 Laura Bleill, Director of External Engagement, at

Subscribe to our FAST Partnership at EnterpriseWorks Newsletter. 

SBIR Technical Assistance Program

FAST Center at Illinois: SBIR Resources 3 FAST Center at Illinois: SBIR ResourcesSince 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. 

Request Assistance

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.


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.