Workshop Abstract

The Federal SBIR/STTR Program awards nearly $4 billion annually to fund early-stage research and development by small businesses. The goals of the program include stimulating technological innovation and positive commercialization outcomes. The SBIR programs are also directed to foster and encourage participation by socially and economically disadvantaged- and women- owned business concerns, and encourages applications from under-represented groups.

Attend this workshop to learn how to navigate the SBIR/STTR Programs, with Program Managers from DOE and NASA, and Directors from Florida Entrepreneurial Support Organizations. The lessons learned during the workshop can be extended to other agencies


Dr. Amy Beaird directs the Florida High Tech Corridor’s Cenfluence program, an initiative of The Corridor and Orange County Government to strengthen Central Florida’s economy and spur job creation in technology and technology-enabled industries. One of only 20 formal clustering programs of its kind in North America, Cenfluence accelerates the growth of Central Florida’s innovation ecosystem by cultivating collaboration among businesses and support organizations in four industry clusters with potential for significant growth: Energy + Environmental Sciences; Gaming, Entertainment + eSports; Life Sciences; and, Learning Sciences + Human Performance. Beaird leads a team with decades of experience in business development, grant writing, research and development, technology transfer and commercialization to provide an unprecedented level of personalized support for Cluster Member companies and elevate their visibility in the U.S. and abroad. Following an internationally recognized framework and proven practices for managing industry clusters, Cenfluence has recruited more than 70 Cluster Member companies and helped them identify and apply for more than $4 million in funding. In 2021, Beaird also led The Corridor’s efforts to secure its first federal award from the U.S. Small Business Administration in the inaugural Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Catalyst Competition established to recognize model partnerships addressing the gaps for underrepresented entrepreneurs nationwide. She drives The Corridor’s collaboration with four university-based entrepreneurial support organizations to maintain a statewide network of women mentors and role models, equip women entrepreneurs to develop competitive SBIR grant applications and streamline commercialization pathways for their STEM innovations. Prior to joining The Corridor, Beaird was a research director at two advanced materials startups. After learning how few minority-led tech startups were securing non-dilutive funds, she started a consultancy to help them identify opportunities and submit compelling applications. Her consultancy has helped 15 clients earn more than $3 million from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Defense and other sources. She has also advised innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem programs on strategy and grant submission, supporting applications for more than $15 million. Beaird is a member of the Chemical Angel Network and in 2021 was selected to attend Embarc Collective’s Glaring Gap Summit, a virtual forum for 50 women startup investors to impact the future of Florida. She has been invited to speak on the topics of women in entrepreneurship and startup funding for Synapse Florida, the National Academy of Inventors, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Institute of Astronautics and Aeronautics, and the Tech Connect SBIR/STTR Innovation Conference. She is also a proposal reviewer for VentureWell and in 2020 judged the Lab-to Market Inclusive Innovation Ecosystem Prize Competition. Beaird is a first-generation college student with a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of South Carolina and B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Florida. She is a passionate advocate for minority STEM professionals and entrepreneurs, serving as a role model, mentor, speaker and facilitator for programs that increase access to critical resources and elevate the voices of talented people who are underrepresented in technology, research and innovation.

Dr. Eileen Chant joined the DOE as the Outreach Program Manager at the Office of SBIR/STTR Programs in 2020. Eileen is a Mechanical Engineer with has over 25 years of experience. Her diverse technical experience encompasses design and modeling of diverse energy technologies including novel cooling and dehumidification processes, fossil and nuclear power, pressure vessel technology and hydrogen storage. She also has over a decade of experience aiding startup companies with technology evaluation and grant writing. Eileen has extensive experience in Knowledge Management and as a Director with non-profit engineering and other volunteer associations. She received her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Dr. Wanda Eugene (Co-Founder, Deep Designs & Program Director, Collaboratory for Inclusive Entrepreneurship at University of Florida and Founder)

Gynelle Steele is the Deputy Program Executive for the NASA SBIR/STTR program. Steele previously managed the Glenn Research Center SBIR/STTR Program Office, and she has also held the role of Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate Liaison. Prior to serving as Glenn’s SBIR/STTR Program Manager, Steele was an engineer in the Technology Transfer Office (TTO), serving as the Center Software Release Authority. In this role, she led the design and implementation of the Agency’s software repository and designed and managed the Glenn Garrett Morgan Commercialization Initiative (GMCI). At the time, GMCI was the Agency’s only program focused exclusively on transferring technology to small disadvantaged businesses. Steele has received multiple awards, including the ARMD Associate Administrator’s Program and Mission Support Award, the Office of Small Business Programs Technical Person of the Year award, the NASA Medal for Exceptional Service, and the National Women of Color award. Steele holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Ohio University and an MBA from Cleveland State University.