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Fueling High-Tech Growth through Minority Businesses

MBDA Contact: Velicia D. Woods, 202-482-0491

The U.S. Department of Commerce has established a new partnership between the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) to support minority business development through our nation's investment in research and development at more than 300 federal laboratories. 

The Minority Business Enterprise Technology Transfer Innovation Consortium will support American innovation and global competitiveness by promoting high-technology opportunities to groups that have had historically low participation in this process. It was one of a number of initiatives to promote entrepreneurship announced as part of the first White House Demo Day, held August 4, 2015. 

By fostering "lab-to-market" initiatives, the partnership aims to increase the number of minority businesses that engage in advanced technology transfer by creating strategic regional ecosystems that link the national science and technology enterprise with the MBDA centers that support minority businesses. 

"MBDA is very excited about this new partnership. It will ensure that minority-owned firms and students of color are truly engaged in the 21st century economy," said Alejandra Y. Castillo, national director at MBDA. "It will support diverse communities that need innovation resources to spur local job creation in various STEM industries." 

NIST and NOAA are contributing funding to support these efforts and will participate in a series of events that will give minority business owners the opportunity to visit federal laboratories to learn more about their research and tech transfer efforts. 

"This partnership will increase entrepreneurship and federal technology transfer in diverse communities," said Willie E. May, Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST director. "We look forward to introducing entrepreneurs and innovators to the research and technology at NIST and many other federal laboratories." 

The initiative includes the following goals: 

  • Including minority businesses and Minority Serving Institutions in existing Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs and related services through education, outreach and partnership; 
  • Piloting the development of a framework for technology transfer regional ecosystems with various domestic trade missions throughout the country, in partnership with the FLC; and 
  • Implementing the framework and subsequent program scale up to create regional ecosystems. 

Many examples of federal research, including GPS, turbine engines, radial tires and the Internet have led to important commercial products and markets. Federal laboratories also offer expertise that can help determine the feasibility of new ideas and test new prototypes, making it easier for the nation's innovators to get their products off the ground. 

As one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. business community with a growing influence on the future of the nation's economy, minority business enterprises represent 5.8 million firms and generate more than $1 trillion in economic output while employing nearly 5 million people. There are more than 65,000 minority employers already in technology industries. Leveraging this diversity is key to the future of the U.S. economy. 

Businesses (and universities involved in research) are invited to visit the MBDA website (www.mbda.gov) to learn more about how to get started. Participants will have access to scientists and researchers at more than 300 laboratories representing 11 federal agencies, SBIR/STTR training, business consulting and more. 

About MBDA: MBDA is the only federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of U.S. minority-owned businesses. Our programs and services better equip minority-owned firms to create jobs, build scale and capacity, increase revenues and expand regionally, nationally and internationally. Services are provided through a network of MBDA Business Centers. After 45 years of service, MBDA continues to be a dedicated strategic partner to all U.S. minority-owned businesses, committed to providing programs and services that build size, scale and capacity through access to capital, contracts and markets. Visit us at www.mbda.gov or follow us on Twitter @usmbda

About NIST: As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. To learn more about NIST, visit www.nist.gov

About NOAA: NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our other social media channels

About the FLC: The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer is the nationwide network of federal laboratories that provides the forum to develop strategies and opportunities for linking laboratory mission technologies and expertise with the marketplace. The FLC was organized in 1974 and formally chartered by the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986 to promote and strengthen technology transfer nationwide. Today, approximately 300 federal laboratories and centers and their parent departments and agencies are FLC members. The consortium creates an environment that adds value to and supports the technology transfer efforts of its members and potential partners.

Released August 5, 2015, Updated January 8, 2018