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KARMA interns participated in SBIR/STTR workshop at Navajo Tech Innovation Center

Church Rock, NM – On June 26, Ke’yah Advanced Rural Manufacturing Alliance (KARMA) summer interns participated in a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) workshop to become familiarized with small business development funding opportunities to help promote an entrepreneurial economy on the Navajo Nation. The purpose of the workshop was to understand how existing small business funding models are used to impact economic development. The workshop was hosted by David Kellner of Cogent Innovation, who is working with KARMA and New Mexico State University (NMSU) in spreading awareness on how small businesses can apply for funding opportunities in the Four Corners region.

KARMA’s three interns that participated in the workshop were Keanu Jones, new media entrepreneur intern, Dale Morgan, new media entrepreneur intern, and Myra Tuttle, grants and research intern. Each of the interns were first time participants in the SBIR program, and will be using the knowledge to enhance businesses pursing work in advanced manufacturing. The interns will also help with businesses currently incubated at NTU’s Innovation Center located in Church Rock, NM.

David Kellner presenting to small business owners and KARMA interns about his insights on obtaining SBIR grants.

 “We need to be able to write quality proposals so we can better serve our economic development on the Navajo Nation,” Myra Tuttle reflected after the workshop. Tuttle, who is a graduate student in NTU’s Master of Arts degree in Diné Culture, Language, and Leadership, stated that if more Navajo businesses were able to obtain small business grants, it would lead to more job creation on the Navajo Nation.

Acquiring SBIR grants are extremely difficult, but there are services that NMSU-Arrowhead Center offers to help those interested in applying to such grants. NM Federal and State Technology (FAST), is a program that the offers free SBIR/STTR proposal development assistance and services throughout the state. SBIR is a federal wide initiative providing funding for small business owners to research their innovative proposals. Kellner is a member of the NM FAST team and is a consultant for helping small businesses writing proposals that can increase their chances of being awarded funding.

In the workshop, Kellner explained that innovation isn’t solely defined on a tangible product(s) but can be ideas and processes to be applicable in various markets. Part of this strategy with KARMA is extending its services through partnerships. SBIR programs hold array of partnerships with agencies such as the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and NASA. Each agency seeks proposals in specific areas of research and helps fund projects.

KARMA has been extending its offerings to small business in the Four Corners region in an effort to develop pathways to entrepreneurship through advanced manufacturing. KARMA provides free business resources like to its collaborators as well as access to resources offered by its partners like New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center. Such resources help provide a pathway for Navajo small business to compete and grow greater economic development opportunities on the Navajo Nation.

For more information about Ke’yah Advanced Rural Manufacturing Alliance or future SBIR/STTR workshops contact Lavern Moore at or call (505) 905 7813.