Montana lands grant to help tech companies with research and development

Tech-based companies in Missoula could benefit from a new federal grant aimed at growing businesses that show commercialization promise, a representative of the Missoula Economic Partnership said Tuesday.

This week, the Montana Department of Commerce announced that it had been awarded a $125,000 Federal and State Technology (FAST) grant to help local companies offset the costs of research and development.

The grant will be awarded locally through the Montana Technology Innovation Partnership (MTIP) program.

“This is a federal grant that helps fund research and development for businesses ready to commercialize technology,” said Nicole Rush, the grants administrator with MEP. “If you’re a tech company, you have this idea and want to develop it into a project to sell, the federal government may be able to help with research and development costs.”

Aside from free business counseling, the Montana Technology Innovation Partnership helps tech-based companies navigate the complex process of applying for innovation research dollars through the federal government.

Between 2012 and 2106, more than 300 state businesses benefited from the program, which brings $10 million annually to state-based companies. Rush said the program could benefit a handful of Missoula businesses.

“I have actually recommended that some local businesses look into this grant, especially companies that are developing valuable intellectual property with the potential for commercialization,” said Rush. “The commercialization factor is the main criteria for the program. You have to be able to make something that’s going to make money.”

Pam Haxby-Cote, director of the state Department of Commerce, said the federal grant will increase the Montana Technology Innovation Partnership’s ability to help other businesses. Roughly $36,0000 will be set aside to help businesses complete and file their innovation research applications.

“Montana is an incubator for innovation and this program is a valuable resource for Montana entrepreneurs who are ready to take the next step toward commercialization,” said Haxby-Cote. “Receiving the FAST grant is exciting news because it will allow us to reinvest directly into Montana businesses.”

Montana is one of 21 states to receive a FAST grant for the upcoming federal fiscal year. Grants are awarded through a competitive application process, and Montana has received it five of the past seven years.