Stephanie Garcia NMSU-based NM FAST program to host USDA-focused business accelerator | New Mexico State University - BE BOLD. Shape the Future.
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NMSU-based NM FAST program to host USDA-focused business accelerator

NMSU_ASCA-980x234.jpegStephanie Garcia | 575-646-4965 | | Jun 08, 2021

Arrowhead Center’s New Mexico Federal and State Technology Partnership Program, housed at New Mexico State University, will be hosting an Arrowhead Center Small Business Innovation Research Accelerator, offering participants real-time support in applying for a U.S. Department of Agriculture SBIR grant for the October deadline.

The accelerator, also known as ACSA, is specifically designed to aid first-time applicants of SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer grants. The program offers participants real-time guidance in preparing their proposals by beginning the 12-week program approximately 10 weeks before the submission closure to ensure that participants have access to assistance as needed. Weekly virtual meetings are held to provide targeted support on different aspects of proposal package development. Throughout the cohort, participants can expect to complete a portion of their proposal packages with hands-on support from NM FAST.

The USDA SBIR program supports small businesses and innovative research that focuses on topics including:

  • Agriculture
  • Agriculture manufacturing
  • Food safety
  • Crop production
  • Livestock production and ranching
  • Rural development
  • Alternative and renewable energy

“While people may think that USDA is just about farming, their topic areas around forestry, biofuels and resource conservation expand that window of innovation development significantly,” said Del Mackey, economic development officer at Arrowhead Center. “Their impact-specific topics for rural and community development, and small and mid-size farms, are very unique to the USDA SBIR/STTR programs, allowing companies to talk more about how their innovation will affect the economic and societal challenges in rural areas, a priority in a predominantly rural state like New Mexico. We think this is a great opportunity for New Mexicans to pursue funding opportunities for the business ideas that will shape the future of our state.”

The USDA-specific ACSA cohort will be working with industry experts to provide targeted support on areas such as aligning with a USDA priority area, creating actionable letters of support and creating a complete proposal package that adheres to USDA requirements.

Each week focuses on a different aspect of the proposal package development including selecting a relevant topic area, preparing an accurate budget, navigating the required forms for submission, and creating a complete proposal package. ACSA participants will also receive micro-grant funding, access to a suite of SBIR/STTR tools and resources, and a professional proposal review. The program’s end goal for participants is to have their proposals completed before the October deadline to ensure a successful submission.

“NM FAST is excited to offer an ACSA cohort focused on USDA,” said Dana Catron, SBIR program director at Arrowhead Center. “Even though New Mexico has a strong agricultural base, there are few USDA SBIR awards in our state. We designed our ACSA program to increase the competitiveness of submitted applications, ensuring that the proposal package is compelling and meets the specific requirements and focus of the agency.”

The 12-week program will run from July 14 to Sept. 29. NM FAST is now accepting applications until June 25.

Before the application deadline for the USDA-focused ACSA, NM FAST will be hosting a webinar from 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday, June 9, to discuss the upcoming program, as well as overviewing the USDA SBIR program and their topics. There will be a Q&A session during the workshop to ask any questions on the ACSA and the USDA SBIR programs. To learn more about this virtual event and to register, visit

For more information on the USDA ACSA, visit