SBIR Road Tour at WSU draws a diverse entrepreneurial crowd

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Road Tour, hosted at Wichita State University by WSU Ventures last month was attended by 175 people, including 94 attendees from small businesses, 35 high school students and 21 federal representatives.

The Road Tour is a series of nationwide events that provides small business, innovators, entrepreneurs and researchers the opportunity to meet one-on-one with federal agency program managers. The one-on-one meetings are aimed at giving attendees a clearer understanding of the expectations of the federal SBIR programs and how local small businesses can meet these expectations and benefit from thenation's largest source of early stage research and development funding for small businesses.

The SBIR program, coordinated by the Small Business Association (SBA), encourages small businesses to engage in research and development. The program provides seed funding for technologies that can aid federal initiatives and that demonstrate a potential for commercialization.

Gary Stecklein, vice president of Davis Technologies International, attended the event to touch base with program managers and make new contacts. His company has a Phase I SBIR contract to develop a retractable compressible fluid suspension system for a Marine Corps amphibious vehicle. 

Stecklein is also the president of the Inventor’s Association of South Central Kansas (IASCK).

“Through the IASCK, we are trying to help individuals and small businesses develop products that helps grow our regional economy, primarily through educational and consulting activities,” Stecklein said.

With attendees of all levels of entrepreneurship experience, the one-on-one meetings and the opportunity to network with fellow entrepreneurs and organizations such as IASCK was beneficial to young and experienced entrepreneurs.

“The SBIR Road Tour was extremely beneficial to us,” said Steven Werner, a business major at WSU and founder and CEO of Lawn Buddy LLC. “Even if your idea does not directly meet the requirements for funding, the SBIR Road Tour is an excellent source to obtain information and perspective on your idea/business.”

Agencies represented at the event included:

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • United States Navy
  • United States Air Force (USAF)
  • Missile Defense Agency
  • Department of Energy (DOE)
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)


Contact: Sherry Gegen, Business & Industry Liaison, or 316-978-6359