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 DEARBORN, Mich., Nov. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- A major Midwest marketing conference for small, high-tech firms interested in tapping into the $72 billion federal research budget is set for Nov. 19-21 in Dearborn.
 The conference, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense, will bring together specialists in the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, as well as technical and procurement specialists, and representatives from at least 15 prime government contractors. These people, plus other experts from government, the private sector and universities, will conduct sessions and meet one-on-one with conference attendees.
 Keynote speaker for the conference is Dr. John McTague, vice president, Technical Affairs, Ford Motor Company. Dr. McTague was science advisor to former President Ronald Reagan, and acting science advisor to President George Bush. He was also a member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Joining Dr. McTague at the Wednesday, Nov. 20, luncheon will be Michigan Gov. John Engler.
 Sharon Woollard, manager of the Technology and Federal Relations Group of the Michigan Department of Commerce, said, "Small firms with 500 or fewer employees that need to engage in new product or process development, and who are currently seeking financial support for pre-prototype R&D work, should attend. Entrepreneurs, university faculty members or scientists who want to research the feasibility of a concept and develop a proprietary technology will benefit from the seminars and one-on-one meeting opportunities, as well."
 In fiscal year 1990, small businesses successfully competed for 3,200 awards under the SBIR Program for approximately $460 million. The Small Business Innovation Research Program began in 1982. It consists of three phases with up to $550,000 available to research and develop the scientific/technical merit of an idea.
 The Dearborn conference marks the first time the federal government has held the training in the Midwest. For younger companies, or companies new to SBIR and other federal R&D programs, sessions will include proposal preparation, government procurement, accounting and audit, marketing to government, patents and protecting intellectual property, starting and financing the small high-tech firm and negotiating defense R&D contracts.
 Advanced seminars for firms that have already won awards include bringing high-tech products to market, U.S. and foreign licensing, venture financing, strategic alliances, seeking foreign markets, SBIR follow-on funding, contracting problems and issues, and revisiting high-tech business plans. There will be special sessions on environmental opportunities through the Department of Defense, and programs to assist minority- and women-owned firms to grow.
 The conference will be co-hosted by the Michigan Department of Commerce and MERRA (with offices in Ann Arbor and Detroit), a program which assists Michigan companies to obtain R&D funds for proprietary technologies and helps to determine the commercialization opportunities for ideas, products and processes. MERRA's services to qualified small businesses in the biotechnology, materials, information, environmental and manufacturing sciences are provided at no cost to the small business, with significant financial support from the MDOC/Strategic Fund, as well as from the federal Small Business Administration.
 Mark Clevey, MERRA vice president, Small Business R&D, said small high-technology firms are known for stimulating technological innovation, a willingness to take risks and an ability to grow and to create jobs. Yet in spite of proven creativity and productivity, companies often have great difficulty obtaining financing, particularly to fund research from idea to prototype, he said.
 "The National SBIR Conferences help companies overcome such problems by teaching them how to win federal R&D awards and by introducing them to key people for pursuing federal and prime contractor R&D opportunities," Clevey said. "In the current economic climate, the conference may also open opportunities for scientists and engineers in companies facing defense and industrial cutbacks. There is $72 billion in federal R&D money available in fiscal year 1992. Of that, $25 billion will be approachable by small firms."
 Clevey added, "One reason the conference is slated for the Great Lakes region this year is because industrial R&D is paying off more than other research and development efforts. The Midwest does more industrial R&D and commercializes more of the technologies."
 The conference will include large companies looking for joint ventures with small firms. Prime contractors planning to attend the Dearborn meeting include GM, Ford, Chrysler, Dow Chemical, General Dynamics, Boeing and others. They will each discuss five to 10 technologies that are of major interest to them in the coming year.
 In addition, fall R&D solicitations just released from the federal agencies with the largest R&D budgets (Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Health and Human Services and Environmental Protection Agency), with proposals due in January, will be presented.
 The conference registration fee is $115 and includes all materials, two breakfasts, two luncheons and two receptions.
 To register, call the Foresight Science and Technology hotline at 407-274-4005.
 For more information, call the Ann Arbor MERRA office at 313-930-0033.
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 /NOTE: If you plan to have a representative attend the conference and the luncheon for Dr. McTague's presentation, please call MERRA to make the appropriate reservations, 313-930-0033. Press kits will be available.
 For more information on the conference, a list of SBIR resource people available in your area, or a partial list of Midwest companies which were awarded SBIR grants, CONTACT: Mark Clevey or Bobbi Blake of MERRA, 313-930-0033/ CO: MERRA; National Science Foundation; U.S. Department of Defense ST: Michigan IN: ARO AUT SU: SM -- DE002 -- 2467 11/08/91 08:14 EST
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Date:Nov 8, 1991

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