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iBIO Institute’s PROPEL Center Is Winner of U.S. SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition

Wednesday, September 7, 2016   (0 Comments)
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The PROPEL Center of the iBIO Institute, dedicated to increasing the number and success rate of early-stage life sciences companies in Illinois, announced today that it was a winner of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2016 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, including a cash prize of $50,000. The SBA Office of Investment and Innovation, Office of Native American Affairs, and Office of Veterans Business Development, along with the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and Department of Education recently announced PROPEL as one of 68 winners across the US.

“SBA created the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition in 2014 as a way to make new connections and strengthen existing bonds within America’s small business support network, bringing entrepreneurs and innovators together and connecting them with local and national resources that support small business job creation and growth,” SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said. “Accelerators serve entrepreneurs in a broad set of industries and sectors – from manufacturing and tech start-ups, to farming and biotech – with many focused on creating a diverse and inclusive small business community.”

“The extra infusion of capital provides winning accelerators like PROPEL with financial capacity to assist more entrepreneurs and small business owners, supporting job creation and economic growth in the Chicago-area and beyond,” SBA Illinois District Director Robert “Bo” Steiner said.

Some of PROPEL’s programs focus specifically on a) strengthening the quality and quantity of Small Business Innovation Research / Small Business Technology Transfer Phase I and II submissions of Illinois life sciences startups, and b) mitigating related commercialization risks during a startup’s development path. Specifically, the SBA prize will help PROPEL increase SBIR/STTR funding to Illinois’ life sciences startups by supporting:

  • SBIR/STTR Grant Writing Workshops: an intensive, 2-day SBIR/STTR Grant Writing workshop focused on life sciences offered three times a year
  • SBIR/STTR Technical Assistance Awards: to strengthen the Phase I and Phase II submissions of PROPEL’s active portfolio companies
  • SBIR/STTR Grants Management Toolkit Awards: to provide grants management tools for those startups receiving SBIR/STTR awards
  • SBIR/STTR Commercialization Assistance Awards: to strengthen and/or further develop the commercialization plans for Phase II submissions and recipients

These programs are strong leverage mechanisms of federal, non-dilutive funding. PROPEL’s portfolio of companies have raised more than $230 million since joining PROPEL, only 13% from SBIRs and STTRs and only 7% from founders, friends and family. Since its launch in 2008, PROPEL has funded more than $1 million in grants and awards, including its SBIR/STTR Awards. PROPEL’s active portfolio of companies have raised $200 in new funding for every $1 that PROPEL awarded.

“Receiving the SBA Growth Accelerator Fund prize demonstrates PROPEL’s significant impact on Illinois life sciences startups,” said Lisa Kurek, managing partner of BBCetc and long-time partner of PROPEL’s SBIR/STTR programming.

“NovaScan has the potential to improve the detection and treatment of skin and other cancers, and PROPEL is helping us realize this goal,” said Craig Davis, NovaScan’s CEO and recipient of a PROPEL SBIR/STTR Award. “PROPEL is and has been a great asset to NovaScan and many other young companies in the life sciences community. It is an integral part of the ecosystem, and it catalyzes growth and success.”

“Winning the SBA competition is another example that PROPEL, through its tiered-programming approach and milestone awards, continues to provide critical and meaningful support to grow early stage companies,” said Warren Ribley, iBIO Institute’s President & CEO.

Additional funding for PROPEL comes from the Searle Funds of The Chicago Community Trust.

For more information on PROPEL or the iBIO Institute, visit

For more info on the SBA Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, visit


PROPEL is a group of programs aimed at increasing the number and success rate of early-stage life sciences companies in Illinois. PROPEL helps guide the development of formation-stage and early-stage life sciences companies by providing entrepreneurs with access to specialized resources and expertise to prepare them for early-stage funding. PROPEL is a Center of the iBIO Institute. To learn more about PROPEL and its programs, visit

About iBIO Institute

The mission of the iBIO Institute is to orchestrate business leadership in delivery of world-class educational programs and job-creating new technology ventures. The Institute’s EDUCATE Center delivers science and math programs for teachers and students, thereby inspiring the next generation of innovators and helping restore America’s leadership in technology education. The Institute’s PROPEL Center increases the number and success rate of early-stage life sciences companies in Illinois. To learn more about iBIO Institute and its programs, visit



Barbara Goodman

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