Here at the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA), our section of the office is lovingly referred to as “Sci-BIR Space.” True, our team is quite adept at communicating across networks, but the real origin of the nickname comes from the fact that we share our office with another awesome resource: MNSBIR.

MNSBIR is designed to help startups and small businesses access federal R&D funding from the annual $3B Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. These programs offer non-dilutive funding via a federal grant or contract, enabling entrepreneurs to take their idea, concept, or project from the beginning stages to market introduction.   

Minnesota startups and small businesses seeking funding for their innovative technology can access expert guidance and advice from MN-SBIR and its Program Director, Pat Dillon; a 25-year veteran of the programs.

Apart from sharing an office, SciTech and MNSBIR have a lot in common. Both programs are government funded, and both exist to help small businesses statewide.  In fact, quite a few companies that use SciTech to find and hire interns, also rely on MN-SBIR to fund their commercialization initiatives.

From nanotechnology skin care to nanosatellites in outer space, here are just a few of the startups and small businesses that have leveraged both SciTech and MNSBIR to achieve their business goals:    

  • ASTER Labs, Shoreview
    ASTER Labs is an advanced space and technology research laboratory. Aster secured several SBIR awards in 2017, including a grant for almost $1.5 million to fund Wi-Fi based localization support for the caregivers of dementia patients. Recently selected as a nanosatellite component reseller, Aster can rely on help from the engineering and orbital dynamics software interns they hired this year through SciTech.


  • Dynation LLC, St. Paul
    Dynation LLC uses nanotechnology as a fast-acting and essentially side-effect free method of epidermal drug delivery. In 2017, Dynation was awarded a National Science Foundation $225,000 SBIR grant to help fund the high risk R&D to develop a topical ibuprofen technology. Dillon was heavily involved with Dynation on the NSF proposal effort and providing business development guidance and advice.
    • Dr. Eric Morrison, Dynation’s founder and CEO, said that during the solicitation process, “Pat [Dillon] made meeting people really easy. She has a great network available amongst the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Twin Cities.”
  • LKT Laboratories, St. Paul
    LKT Laboratories manufactures and supplies biochemicals and pharmaceuticals for lab research. LKT won a significant amount of SBIR awards throughout the 90’s and, in recent years, hired SciTech chemistry interns to help them out over the summer. Working together with the LKT scientists, these students are helping support more areas of cancer research, neuroscience research, cardiovascular research, and general life sciences.

With innovation resources like these, the sky’s the limit!
The federal SBIR/STTR programs are critical to small businesses who are engaged in high risk R&D with the intent goal to develop a new product, service or process. “The programs support the American dream for the scientist, engineer or the small business that needs to innovate to remain competitive in an ever changing global market place,” Dillon said.

Get Involved
Eager to achieve similar success? We’ve got you covered.

MNSBIR is a federal and state funded resource that offers free, confidential, one-on-one technical assistance in business development and technology commercialization to successfully compete in the federal SBIR/STTR programs.

MNSBIR can help you understand the programs and whether your idea, concept or project has merit to be competitive in the programs. The federal R&D arena is complex. We can help you navigate these programs to access the funding to support your advanced R&D efforts. Learn more at

SciTech is a free, state-funded program that connects small Minnesota companies to college STEM students for paid internship opportunities. Employers receive up to $2,500 to help pay interns. At least 350 wage matches are available through August 2019.

Learn more about the SciTech Internship Program and apply online today.