Announcing the Seed Fund Pilot Program, a new initiative to support Florida-based researchers and emerging entrepreneurs in commercializing their cybersecurity technical innovations, launching new businesses, and helping secure critical infrastructure.
Modeled after the federal Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) Phase I programs, the Seed Fund Pilot is intended to complement and amplify other statewide efforts to encourage innovation, such as the Florida High-Tech Corridor, I-Corps, and incubators and accelerators around the state, by filling in the missing pieces of seed funding and mentoring for commercialization.
The effort will focus on mentoring new entrepreneurs to help them establish businesses centered on cybersecurity technical solutions and services. The program will advance Cyber Florida’s legislative mission by facilitating research sharing between businesses and universities, attracting cybersecurity companies to Florida and helping innovative cybersecurity businesses to emerge in Florida.
During the inaugural year, Cyber Florida will evaluate applications and grant approximately $240,000 in total seed funding to be distributed among four emerging companies that are registered and operating in Florida. Like SBIR programs, Cyber Florida will take no equity or realize any return from these investments. Successful applicants will be selected based on a two-stage process.
- Stage 1: Applicants craft and submit a short business plan (format to be announced, adapted from the SBIR format). A distinguished Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) at Cyber Florida will evaluate these business plans from both a technical and business perspective.
- Stage 2: After the initial evaluation, the EIR invites select applicants to pitch their plans to an evaluation panel, in person, at Cyber Florida’s facilities in Tampa.
- Stage 3: The evaluation panel awards four grants, and the EIR works closely with the emerging entrepreneurs over the next 12 months to exit successfully from the program by establishing the business, securing additional funding, and beginning technical work or preparing for business launch. Funded companies will be introduced to partners in the state’s innovation ecosystem to leverage their services.