SUU’s Business and Innovation Center Awarded $750k Grant

Published: October 13, 2021 | Author: Jenn Stewart | Read Time: 3 minutes

SUU's Business and Innovation CenterSouthern Utah University’s Business and Innovation Center (BIC) was one of 33 nationwide recipients of the competitive Build to Scale Venture Challenge grant award managed by the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship within the US Economic Development Administration (EDA). SUU’s proposal was fully funded over three years for a total of $749,334.

Only 14% of proposals submitted were funded during this grant cycle and SUU’s Accelerating Innovators: Fueling Cedar City Regional Startups was one of them. This win was shared by the strategic collaboration of several community partners, including SUU BIC (part of SUU Regional Services), Southwest Technical College, Cedar Band Corporation, SUU Dixie L. Leavitt School of Business, and Cedar City/Iron County Economic Development. The project called for one-to-one community matching dollars provided by the partnership for a total project cost of nearly 1.5 million dollars.

Grant funds will be used to execute a strategic plan created during the 2020 Rural Innovation Initiative, also sponsored by the US EDA. This plan fills identified gaps in the current entrepreneurial support system and ensures startups have the support they need to adopt new technologies and develop strategies that advance the pace of market readiness. As a result, SUU’s Accelerating Innovators project will ultimately expand the success of innovation-driven industry and will double the number of scalable startups in the Cedar City/Iron County area.

“We are excited about the opportunities the Build to Scale Venture Challenge award will provide SUU students and community members in southern Utah,” said Mary Pearson, dean of the School of Business at SUU. “This project will be a wonderful complement to our business programs and enhance our commitment to provide learning experiences in and outside the classroom.”

Authorized under Section 27 of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980, the Build to Scale program supports technology-based economic development initiatives that accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship, generate added economic opportunities, and scaffold the next generation of industry-leading companies who are creating the jobs of tomorrow. SUU’s submission was a collaborative effort led by the SUU Office of Regional Services team and assisted by the SUU Sponsored Programs, Agreements, Research, and Contracts (SPARC) office. The Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) also provided some technical support.

“This marks the third grant award to SUU from the US Economic Development Administration in the last three years,” said Sylvia Bradshaw, director of SPARC. “We are grateful for their continued support and belief in the future of business in southern Utah. We are honored to serve this dynamic team.”

In addition to those providing matching funds, other grant partners include SUU’s Larry H. Miller Entrepreneurship Center and Leadership Council, cities and governments within Iron County (Cedar City, Enoch, and Parowan), Tech Up Southern Utah/Silicon Slopes Chapter, Thinkubator, and Utah State University’s Rural Online Initiative.

“This grant is a game-changer for the level of service and attention we'll be able to give to businesses,” said partner Scott Leavitt. “It's a great time to start or grow your business in Iron County!”

For more information on the Accelerating Innovators project, contact SUU’s Business and Innovation Center at

Tags: Small Business Development Center Startup Regional Services SPARC

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