South Carolina Office of Innovation launches 3Phase

Monday, February 26, 2018 Initiative aimed at helping research-based firms acquire grant awards

COLUMBIA, S.C. –The Office of Innovation at the S.C. Department of Commerce today announced the launch of 3Phase, a new resource aimed at assisting research-based companies in South Carolina successfully acquire Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards. A first of its kind, 3Phase will provide training and workshops throughout the state on the federal SBIR and STTR programs, while managing the application process for a portfolio of companies, both at no cost to participants.

The SBIR and STTR programs require eligible governmental agencies to set aside a percentage of their budgets toward startups in the creation of innovative, disruptive technologies, with an aim of getting discoveries out of the lab and into the market. Different from other investment opportunities, the SBIR and STTR programs fund early stage research and development and are designed to provide equity-free funding. These investments build a strong national economy by stimulating technological innovation in the private sector; strengthening the role of small business in meeting federal research and development needs; and increasing the commercial application of federally-supported research results.

“The creation of 3Phase is an example of what’s possible when collaboration collides with leadership,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. “Allowing for the increased commercialization of intellectual property in South Carolina, this new initiative perfectly represents the state’s ongoing mission to promote the growth of our knowledge economy.”

Upon embarking on that mission in the fall of 2013, S.C. Commerce launched the state's first Office of Innovation. Since that time, the office has successfully empowered 24 entrepreneurship programs and educated more than 6,000 South Carolinians in technology curriculum.

Last year, to build on this success and solicit the insights of both public and private stakeholders, the office established the Council for Innovation Initiatives. As the first recommendation from the council, 3Phase aims to be a centralized resource with expertise in specialized funding that not only raises the success rate of awards within the Palmetto State, but also attracts outside investment.

“These federal funds provide critical risk capital for new and often unproven ideas that are usually too early to attract prospective investors,” shared Matt Dunbar, founder and managing director of VentureSouth and Council for Innovation Initiatives member. Dunbar continued, “SBIR awards help advance the technical and commercial viability of early stage ventures, thereby reducing risks to levels that are allowable for angel or other venture firms to invest for continued development."

Details on the workshops and acceptance into the 3Phase portfolio are to be announced in the coming weeks. For more information on 3Phase, visit