Upcoming Virtual Info Sessions
- Every Wednesday from 5–6 pm via Zoom
- Chat with Program Manager Dr. Manish Agrawal and Entrepreneur-in-Residence Ryan Paterson
- Application Submission: June 16
- Application Feedback and Initial Shortlist: July 7
- Budget & Compliance Documents Due: August 4
- In-person Pitch: August 18
- Recipients Announced: August 25
- Project Set-up : August – September
- Funding and Work Begins: Sep 2023 through August 2024
- Program Exit and Final Report: August 2024
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.
Seed Fund Pilot Program FAQs
Not at this time. In future calls, subject to budget availability, there may be follow-on funding for companies making significant progress. Cyber Florida will help identify follow-on funding opportunities.
Yes; Cyber Florida will assist selected companies with proposal writing support for SBIR/STTR Phase I and Phase II funding.
Following the practice adopted by the federal government with the SBIR/STTR programs, any financial irregularities will be referred to the appropriate Florida law enforcement agencies for investigation.
The program requires that companies budget for certified public accountant (CPA) services to manage their finances and develop the required reports.
The award agreement follows the practices of the National Science Foundation’s SBIR/STTR programs. The funding agreement is a grant—a legal instrument of financial assistance between Cyber Florida and the awardee.
I am an employee at a company, working on a cybersecurity-related project as a ‘side hustle.’ Am I eligible to apply for this grant?
The program places no limitations beyond those specified in the call. You will be responsible for obtaining the necessary permissions from your employer to apply.
Yes; the call is open to any company registered and operating in Florida.
Students are encouraged to leverage this opportunity to explore their entrepreneurial ambitions in any capacity. For example, they can be part of an applicant team. They can also form their own company and apply by themselves. For this call, there is no requirement for a student team to include a faculty member or other university employee.
Absolutely. In fact, this program is intended to assist exactly such promising ideas to get off the ground. Prior revenues or prior operating history is not required for applicants. Applicants must be registered and operating in Florida and must meet the NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I criteria for eligibility as specified at https://www.sbir.gov/sites/default/files/elig_size_compliance_guide.pdf.
No; awarded firms are free to use any mentorship, training, or other resources available. In fact, program staff will do their best to connect awarded companies to such resources across Florida. The entrepreneur-in-residence is Cyber Florida’s effort to ensure that awarded firms are not left on their own.
Cyber Florida regards cyber resiliency as an integral part of the cybersecurity continuum. Companies focusing on improving the resilience of our physical infrastructure to cyberattacks are eligible to apply.