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I have an idea to make hybrid cars more fuel efficient. Where can I get funds for product development?
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Sounds like the timing of your idea could be perfect. With oil at $60 a barrel, everyone, including an oil friendly White House, wants to invest in alternative energy. There will be a lot of places to investigate for funding, so let's get started.
Financial assistance is available at 2 levels: up to $40,000 and up to $200,000 by the Inventions and Innovations program as stated by the Office of Industrial Technologies (OIT) Department of Energy (DOE) for ideas that significantly impact energy savings and future commercial market potential. Successful applicants will find technical guidance and commercialization support in addition to financial assistance.
DOE has given financial support to more than 500 inventions with nearly 25% of these reaching the marketplace bringing in nearly $710 million in cumulative sales. Contact: U.S. Department of Energy, Mail Stop EE-24, 1000 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20585-0121; 202-586-1478; Fax: 202-586-7114; http://www1.eere.energy.gov/financing/
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Exploratory Research (OER) plans, administers, manages, and evaluates the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) extramural grant research. It supports research in developing a better understanding of the environment and its problems. Main goals are: to support the academic community in environmental research; maintain scientific/technical personnel in environmental science/ technology; to support research for the identification/solution of emerging environmental problems.
Goals are accomplished through four core programs:
1. The Research Grants Program: Supports research initiated by individual investigators in areas of interest to the agency.
2. The Environmental Research Centers Program: Has two components: The Academic Research Center Program (ARC) and the Hazardous Substance Research Centers Program (HSRC).
3. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program: Program supports small businesses for the development of ideas relevant to EPA's mission. Focuses on projects in pollution control development. Also receives 1.5% of the Agency's resources devoted to extramural Superfund research.
4. The Visiting Scientists Program:Components are an Environmental Science and Engineering Fellows Program and a Resident Research Associateship Program. The Fellows Program supports ten mid-career post-doctoral scientists and engineers at EPA headquarters & regional offices. The Research Associateship Program attracts national and international scientists and engineers at EPA research laboratories for up to 3 years to collaborate with Agency researchers on important environmental issues.
Other programs available are:A Minority Fellowship Program A Minority Summer Intern Program The Agency's Senior Environmental Employment Program (SEE)The Federal Workforce Training ProgramAn Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).
To learn more, contact Grants Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20460; 202-260-2090. The best way, though, is to search for the word "grant" at the EPA's website; www.epa.gov.
The following public and non-profit organizations assist individuals and businesses protect their ideas, finance their ideas and development them to their full potential.
You don't have to pay thousands of dollars for a private invention company and maybe not even a patent attorney. You can get a lot of this help for free or at a fraction of the cost. There is a lot of help out there; university-sponsored programs, not-for-profit groups, state affiliated programs, profit-making companies, etc. Depending on the assistance and the organization, some services are free, others have reasonable fees.
Many of the inventors' organizations hold regular meetings where speakers share their expertise on topics such as licensing, financing and marketing. These groups are a good place for inventors to meet other inventors, patent attorneys, manufacturers, and others with whom they can talk and from whom they can get help.
If the listings in the state-by-state section of this chapter do not prove to be useful, you can contact one of the following organizations for help.
1. Small Business Development Center, Washington State University, Parkplace Building, 1200 6th Ave., Suite 1700, Seattle, WA 98101; 206-553-7328; Fax: 206-553-7044; www.wsbdc.orgThis service will evaluate your idea for a fee. They also provide counseling services and can assist you with your patent search.
2. Wisconsin Innovation Service Center/Technology, Small Business Development Center, University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, 402 McCutchan Hall, Whitewater, WI 53190; 262-472-1365; Fax: 262-472-1600; www.sbdc.uww.eduThe only service that is guaranteed is the evaluation. However, efforts are made to match inventors with exceptional high evaluation scores with manufacturers seeking new product ideas. (Do not offer direct invention development or marketing services). WISC charges a $495 flat fee for an evaluation. The goal is to keep research as affordable as possible to the average independent inventor. Most evaluations are completed within 30 - 45 days. Those inventions from specialized fields may require more time. WISC also provides preliminary patent searches via on-line databases to client.
3. Drake University, Small Business Development Center, Ms. Sherry Shafer, Director, Drake Business Center, 2507 University, Des Moines, IA 50311-4505; 1-800-532-1216; 515-271-2655; Fax: 515-271-1899; www.iabusnet.orgINVENTURE is a program of the Drake University Business Development and Research Institute designed to encourage the development of valid ideas through the various steps to becoming marketable items. INVENTURE has no paid staff. The entire panel is made up of volunteers. The administration of the program is handled by existing staff from the Small Business Development Center and the College of Business and Public Administration. They will review items from any person regardless of their place of residence. They will review a product idea and check it for market feasibility. INVENTURE may link individuals with business and/or financial partners.
INVENTURE screens every product submitted, but will not consider toy/game or food items. Products are evaluated on 33 different criteria, (factors related to legality, safety, business risk, and demand analysis, to market acceptance/ competition). It normally takes up to 6 weeks to receive results of the evaluation. Evaluators are experienced in manufacturing, marketing, accounting, production, finance and investments.
INVENTURE acts in a responsible manner to maintain confidence of an idea, but cannot guarantee confidentiality.
For assistance with business plans, financial projections, and marketing help, you're encouraged to contact your Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
You can actually get up to $1,000,000 in grants and/or loans to open or expand a businessfrom the U.S. Federal Government alone.There are over 100 different money programsavailable from offices ranging from the U.S. Small Business Administration to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the U.S. Department of Commerce. For the best sourceidentifying all federal only government money programs available, look at a governmentpublished book called The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance published by the U.S.Government Printing Office (www.gpo.gov) or look at it for free on the web at www.cfda.gov.
Another good starting place to find anything in the federal government is a free service calledthe Federal Information Center at 1-800-FED-INFO or www.pueblo.gsa.gov/call. For yourlocal SBA office, contact: Small Business Administration (SBA), 4300 Amon Carter Blvd,Dallas/Fort Worth, TX 76155; 817-684-5500; Fax: 817-684-5516; http://www.sba.gov/tx/
Question: Do you know what is better than a $100,000 government grant?Answer: A $100,000 government contract. Because with a grant you are most likely to get it once and with a contract you can keep getting it over and over again. Question: Do you know who buys more of anything than anyone else in the world? Answer: The government, including federal, state, local and county.
There may be an opportunity to sell produce to a government office, at the local, state or national level. The government wants to deal with small entrepreneurs and may even help you financially to do it.
But don't worry too much about the work required and the paperwork involved because there are offices that will help you do all this and they will do it FOR FREE. Contact these offices below and tell them you need help. If you land a contract you might be able to get a traditional loan to finance the project. Contact:
But remember one thing: selling to the government is like going elephant hunting. When you bag one of these babies you have meat for a long time.
These are all grants...
The money is in the form of tax credits on your federal and/or your state income taxes. If you are paying any taxes then this is truly free money because it is taken right off your tax bill. To find out about every tax credit at your state level contact your state Department of Revenue by calling 411 and asking for the state capital operator, or go to www.govengine.com and click on your state and start looking for the Department of Revenue. For information on all federal tax credits, contact Internal Revenue Service, 202-622-5000 or 800-829-1040 (Business Tax Questions) or go to www.irs.ustreas.gov/formspubs/. You can also turn to Texas Department of Economic Development, P.O. Box 12728, Austin, TX 78711; 512-936-0100; 800-888-0511; Fax: 512-936-0400; http://www.governor.state.tx.us/divisions/ecodev
Maybe you don't need a bunch of money to get your idea off the ground. Maybe all you need is just a few thousand dollars to get your idea to go. Well, there are hundreds of non-profit organizations that offer small grants and easy loans aimed at people who would never be able to get money from traditional sources. It is difficult to locate all of these groups around the country, but two good starting places are: 1) Association for Enterprise Opportunity at 703-841-7760 or http://www.aeoworks.org/index.php/site/page/category/find/ and 2) The Foundation Center at 212-620-4230 or www.fdncenter.org
Having your own business can be one of the most life changing experiences you will ever have. The great sacrifice and hard work necessary in the beginning will fulfill your life like nothing else. And more importantly, entrepreneuring is the surest way to accumulate financial wealth in our society. Data from a book by two college professors called, The Millionaire Next Door, shows that about 66% of the people in the USA who became millionaires by working for their money and not inheriting it, got that way by having their own business.
It will probably be difficult to get all the money you need in a grant. But it is not impossible. Grants for business are there, but they require a bit of digging.
The most important thing to remember when you are looking for money is to make sure that you investigate every possible source of financial assistance. There are always possibilities out there like the hundreds of organizations that will even lend money to entrepreneurs that have no money or have bad credit.
Do you realize that only 20% of the free money that is available from the government is called grants? Some 80% of the free money the government has is referred to by names like "direct payments," "venture capital," "loans you don' have to pay back,' "contracts" and other jargon. So, if you contact a government office and ask what kind of grants they have, you can be missing out on over 80% of the free money available. So, when you contact a government office ask for information about their "financial assistance programs." This way you are using a word that is inclusive of all kinds of free money not just grants.
One of the reasons a lot of people are looking for grants is because they feel that if the bank won't lend them money, no one is ever going to lend them money, so they should not even bother to ask. This is not true of government programs, especially for business. There are many business loan programs that are for people who cannot get money elsewhere. And as I mentioned earlier, there's even a bunch of non-profits that have loans just for entrepreneurs who have no money and bad credit and want to start a business.
Most people who hear about the possibilities of government money programs start doing a little investigation and quickly realize that it may be a complicated process and they better get some help. So they purchase a book or a service like this hoping that it will cut down on their time and confusion and make their life really easy.
Sure, you may get lucky and the first contact you investigate in this report will provide you with all the help you need. But this is unlikely to happen to most people. What you have here is the most selected sources that pertain just to your situation from the literally thousands of sources available. You still have to do a bunch of work.
You have to contact each of these sources and investigate each of the programs in detail to see if there is any potential for that program to help you. Here's how to do it:
Step #1: Contact each source by phone or email and make sure you have the most complete list of available programs.
Step #2: Review each program in detail and try to see a way that this program might be of use to you. Some programs may offer money if your business is in certain areas, so investigate if that is a possibility for you. Be creative, maybe you can move your business to the area they want developed and not start it in the area you initially planned. Some programs may only offer technical assistance and not money, so see if there is someone available in the program that can provide you with the technical assistance that is particular to your business. There are many aspects of starting and operating a business that requires more than money. They may be able to help identify additional sources of money for you. They may be able to help you fill out applications and paperwork or even help with your taxes, marketing, or management problems.
Step #3: Every source you contact does not have to be a lost source even if they do not offer you the help you are seeking. Many of the people at these offices have been doing their work for many years and are often knowledgeable enough to know about other similar programs that may help you, or new programs that are not offered yet but will be available to the public soon, or programs that have been redesigned and weren't offering assistance to people like you in the past but are now offering this assistance and no one knows about them.
Don't believe it when some professional tries to scare you into thinking how hard it is to write a business plan or fill out a money application. This is the least of your problems, plus there is plenty of free help in filling them out when the time comes. The first thing you must do in getting government money is get a copy of the application that you believe may give you the money you need. No one should ever investigate hiring a professional before you even know where you are going to apply for the money. And once you get an application in hand and you think you need help, contact your local Small Business Development Center at 800-8-ASK-SBA or http://www.sba.gov/sbdc/sbdcnear.html. They will help you for free or for next to nothing. You can also get help from the best grant writing experts in the country at a non-profit organization called The Foundation Center. Their materials are available for free in libraries all over the country. You can find out where by contacting them at 212-620-4230 or www.fdncenter.org.
Also, there are money non-profit organizations that help individuals and entrepreneurs with paperwork, if it becomes a problem. Association for Enterprise Opportunity at 703-841-7760 or http://www.aeoworks.org/index.php/site/page/category/find/ should be able to help you identify such organizations.
By the way, I've seen a lot of applications for government money and many of them were so sloppy and unintelligible that any teacher would have given them a flunking grade, but they still got their money. And some applications are only one page long and you can get up to $150,000 for filling them out. Worrying about filling out an application before you have one in hand, is like buying a prom dress before you are invited to the prom. First things first.
It is important to investigate each of these sources because they can lead you to something that is not on the list. The world is too big for even me to know about every potential money opportunity. The real opportunities may likely be in what is not on the list, but I don't know about them or I would have put them on the list.
I believe that this is how the world works. Every time I start out on a new product or a new venture, I begin with the best way I believe it will become successful, but it never turns out that way. If it becomes successful, it usually gets that way by a method that I never even dreamed of. Now I know I'm not smart enough to know the one best way to do something when I begin a new project. No one is. The best way is created as you investigate the ways that you think are the best ways. Going through the process of investigating what you believe is the best way, expands your mind to think of other ways to get to where you want to be. And you would have never thought of them unless you had gone through the process. The struggle and process can expand your mind to think of things you never even dreamed of.
So if it's hard to do what you want to you, just remember that this is life, and 9 times out of 10 it is going to be that way. But if you really want to do it you will hang in there until you figure it out. And what you have here are the best starting places in the world, created by some of the best experts in the world on this subject. Now it is all up to you on what you do with it.
Good luck and keep your dream alive. And keep finding more ways to fan the fire when the flames start to dwindle.
Matthew LeskoBest Selling Author and Entrepreneurwww.lesko.com