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Women Who Want Grants Should Look at Green Energy Jobs

Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer. The U.S. government does not offer grants. One exception is in the area of SBIR/STTR, or Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer. The SBIR Program encourages small businesses to engage in research that aligns with the government's areas of focus for research and technology. If these projects have potential to be commercialized, or turn into business for profit, the government will award them grants. As the SBIR states it, the mission is to invest "Federal research funds in critical American priorities to build a strong national economy."

There are several U.S. departments that support innovation and technology research with grants. They include Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, EPA, Science, Transportation, Aeronautics and Space, and Homeland Security. These departments represent critical areas in which the U.S. needs to remain competitive with other countries. That's why they use 2.5 percent of their $100 million budgets to fund small business grants. SBIR and STTR work together to ensure that great ideas from small business do not just remain great idea but actually result in turning them into viable solutions.

Funding for SBIR projects is awarded in two phases. In Phase I, grants up to $150,000 for six months are awarded. Phase II awards grants up to $1 million for two years if the project delivers the intended results. The SBIR program has awarded more than $26.9 billion in grants through 2009. Funding for STTR projects are similar. STTR focuses on the technology that will establish technical merit and commercialization of research projects. Phase I awards are up to $100,000 for one year, and Phase II awards are up to $750,000 for two years.

These grants are highly competitive. Unfortunately, only 6 to 7 percent of the grants go to women. Why? Because of the lower numbers of women pursuing degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Only 18.4 percent of bachelor's degrees in engineering are awarded to women, and 22.6 percent of master's degrees.

There is no doubt about the future focus of clean energy and other innovations in energy and sustainability. It is estimated that the clean energy sector could increase to $1.9 trillion in revenues by the year 2018. Women who are interested in starting for-profit businesses in the STEM fields have a great opportunity to not only receive grants and recognition for their contributions but also benefit by positively impacting significant areas of the U.S. economy.

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