University of West Florida & The Florida SBDC State Office Intent for Application Announcement

The University of West Florida (UWF) and the Florida Small Business Development Center State Office (State Office), collectively referred to as the “Grantor,” are excited to announce that the 2025 Florida SBDC Network Application for Funding is anticipated to open June 10, 2024, and will close on August 30, 2024. Applications are open only to current Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) in the Florida SBDC Network (FSBDCN or “Network”). To be considered for participation, applicants must follow the process outlined below.

Commencing for the 2025 SBDC program year, the network will introduce a new application process for regional SBDC host applicants. Key requirements of this process include:

  • Submission of a letter of intent to apply by April 12, 2024, indicating the current host institution will participate in the 2025 sub-contract agreement.
  • Review and acknowledgment of the network's supplemental documents, including but not limited to Conflict of Interest, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), and branding guidelines.
  • Completion of the required application by COB May 17, 2024.
  • Once application is reviewed and the SBA Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is released, a request for funding will be released for host institution completion with projected budget.
  • Attendance at mandatory meetings such as the kick-off meeting, host council calls, and continuous improvement plan sessions.

Please be aware that we have extended the application deadline for regions (UWF, FAMU & UNF) impacted by the recent North Florida Tornadoes with counties included in the Governor's Executive Orders (EO 24-94 & 24-95). The new due date for these regions will be COB Friday, May 24, 2024.

Application Scoring Sheet

The authority governing the SBDC program in Florida includes the following:

  • 15 U.S.C. §§648, et seq.
  • 13 CFR Part 130
  • 2 CFR Part 200
  • 2 CFR Part 215
  • Section 288.001, Florida Statutes

Where there are any conflicts, the precedence is as follows: federal law, state law, FSBDCN documents.

For further information please send your questions to FSBDCStateDirector@uwf.edu. All questions will be posted and answered publicly below:

A: The cash match from the host institution is the same as in previous years. The required match is a 1:1 ratio of the federal dollars received. So yes, the host at minimum must match 50% with cash and the remainder be in the form of additional cash or in-kind contributions, and/or waived indirect. State performance funds cannot be used as match to federal dollars received.
A: The application is between the State Office and the anticipated sub-contracted region. If the regions choose to have a sub-center in their region, it is up to the region to define what the sub-centers need to submit to the applicant region. Therefore if you want them to submit an application as outlined in the process to the regions that is fine for the development of your application.
A: Anticipating the goal might increase with SBA if it returns to capital raised and not transactions, but at this time we feel this is higher than what it will actually be. If it doesn't revert to an SBA metric and it continues to be a state metric, we feel the metric will be flat or slightly higher than in 2024. Also the idea is if transactions increase we need to keep pace on the access to capital dollars side. This will be worked out with the RDs of the regions once we fully understand 2025 goals.
A: Yes with some possible minor changes that will be applied from year to year in consultation with our strategic planning sessions. In reality our thought is the application process will replace the technical proposal component of the process.
A: We felt that although a couple of the regions were discussed, and as we don't want to get into the specifics of region-by-region, that there needed to be a formal reset of the program. This will help define relationships and align the network for the betterment of our communities and small businesses. Our hope is that the State Office and the host institutions - beyond just regional leadership - will have more of an open dialog for the betterment of both relationships. This is not something that happened overnight as you can imagine, and it has been building to the point where we just needed to address the entire network putting everyone on the same page. The idea is if this doesn't solve the issue - we will expect that further action will be taken on a case-by-case basis.
A: We think this is a great suggestion that we have more of an alignment in the process. We just have to be a little careful in the fact that if one region no longer wants to participate that there would be an open solicitation. We have to treat the process as not to give anyone an unfair advantage. We need to think through this more but feel like there is benefit in program development and understanding of budgets to strategy by visiting in person with the entire host institution team.
A: Per the following statement in the “Subcontract Opportunity” document, the funding amounts listed are an estimate as we have not completed our IMPLAN process and final metrics have not been incorporated: “The above funding levels are not guaranteed. The grant is funded federally through a congressional appropriation and by state funds through a state appropriation. Therefore, until a finalized appropriation has been determined, the Grantor reserves the right to adjust the funding levels and key performance indicators (KPIs) as necessary based on the appropriations and other performance factors. All funding estimates have been determined based on the past history of the Grantor’s funding and the regional landscape as defined above.” Also, it is worth noting that if everyone does well in the metrics the funding could change even if an applicant scored a 5 out of 5. For example, someone scored a 4.0 the year before and they scored a 4.5 this year. In the end, funding should not change by more than 3% in total with the cap unless the total available funding to allocate changes.
A: Please use the current SOP document that is posted as this is the one that was posted and reviewed for the letter of intent. The SOP is a living document and will change. We are in the process of updating the document with agreed upon changes and updating to include the KPI definitions.
A: Currently, under the Entrepreneurial Nexus program, we have compiled data on the ecosystem gathered from the original surveys, regional SBDC visits, and partner discussions. We have contracted with a vendor to host a platform for Nexus assets, including a catalog of the assets throughout the state. We are looking for an Entrepreneurial Nexus program manager to manage the program and drive further value to the entrepreneurial assets, including Florida SBDC Regional Offices, in the Nexus. This position has been partially funded by DoD through APEX, as they see the value this program will bring to their overall innovation goals. Our goal is for each region to not only be mapped across the ecosystem as an asset for entrepreneurs and small business owners, but the regions to also utilize the asset catalog and future Nexus activities to further support outreach, partnerships, and the overall mission of the Florida SBDC. In practice, we need the support of regions to help the Nexus understand local partnerships and initiatives, and keep the Nexus data clean. Future goals once the Nexus is fully deployed is to implement a self-sustaining model such that staff salaries are covered. This might take a few years, but we believe through events, sponsorship, advertisements, and participation in reverse trade shows at our annual Small Business Success Summit we will ensure a network of value. We truly believe that by highlighting the entrepreneurial ecosystem that we will increase the innovation in Florida, increase the survivability rates of our small businesses in Florida, and highlight to the nation that Florida's small businesses have the support they need to succeed and that they are a good investment by for an angel investor, venture capital funding, or even traditional funding.
A: We believe one of the biggest initiatives we will have as discussed during the informational systems is how the network can utilize a common secure information technology environment, including AI and be in a secure cloud. This might mean taking the network to one common platform for emails, client information and such. This is just one idea, but we need to really discuss this more. We feel that AI can greatly benefit our network and make short order of many tasks, and address the need for more secure communication. Of course, there will still need to be human intervention, but in the end it could save 1000s of hours a year per region especially in the larger regions. Another example is the continued transition of the APEX Accelerator program and enhancement of the SBDC program in SBIR/STTR. We have hired a Technology Transition and Commercialization manager that will sit within the walls of DEFENSEWERX. The idea is to connect Florida small businesses in collaboration with the regions, to commercialization opportunities and as well leverage small business innovation to transfer novel technologies to the DoD and other organizations through prize challenges, SBIR, STTR, OTAs, and other vehicles to mature technologies for use. This connection point will facilitate the connectivity of national organizations, research universities, Entrepreneurial Nexus Assets, and other entities to drive innovation and support higher level returns on investment in consulting hours for the Florida SBDC Network. Current special initiatives you should consider as well are task force topics and participation in those task force groups that we have already defined to ensure we hit KPIs and as well drive state of the art programming to the network. Lastly, other strategic initiatives can considered once the application process is completed and we have a strategic planning session with all nine regions that have been awarded a contract.
A: We have shared for several years now that entrepreneurialism in Florida is on fire and the network will never receive enough federal and state funds to engage every small business in need of our services. Although we are optimistic that we might receive additional funding from the Federal government in our programs that we administer, the requirement of the program is a one-to-one match. As there are possibilities that we might draw down more funding, we are trying to ensure that our regions are thinking proactively of ways to increase funding to attribute towards cash match if needed. Examples of this other match is for regional models like UCF and USF where there are subcenters that contribute to the overall match of the region. It is also noted that many regions receive additional non-federal funding that could be applied towards cash match. A part of hosting a vibrant network is ensuring that if other federal funds do come up that we are thinking of ways to draw these funds down to our state. So in short, the question is there to spur innovation and creativity to help increase the bandwidth of current staff and coverage of a region, as well as to identify potential sources of cash match funding for further expansion of our network.