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SAGE South

Helping technology entrepreneurs win competitive grant funding from the U.S. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) programs

SAGE South Overview

The Sierra Accelerator for Growth & Entrepreneurship (SAGE) South works with inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs to:

  • determine if an idea or business qualifies for the SBIR-STTR programs,
  • find appropriate and available SBIR-STTR research grant opportunities,
  • navigate the complex world of the government grant process, and
  • help write the best possible proposal.

SAGE is a statewide partnership offered through the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the University of Nevada, Reno, and APIO Innovation Transfer (APIOiX). SAGE is funded by the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED).

If you are located in Northern Nevada, please visit our partner institution’s SAGE portal to submit your business idea.

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A blue U.N.R. logo with the letter N in a blue box followed by University of Nevada, Reno
GOED Logo Version 2

How does SAGE South work?

SAGE South is open to all Nevada for-profit technology-based small businesses (fewer than 500 employees). Faculty or community entrepreneurs bring their business concepts to the SAGE team. Initial discussions determine to which agency to apply, map a strategy and even determine whether the business concept is ready for an SBIR or STTR proposal.

If the decision is made to go forward with an application, SAGE can assist with proposal writing and navigating the federal grant registration system.

SBIR/STTR program overview

Known as America’s Seed Fund, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) / Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) program is the nation’s largest source of early-stage/high-risk funding for startups and small businesses. The awards are available to qualified U.S. for-profit small businesses.

The programs provide funding for some of the best early-stage innovation ideas that are still too high-risk for private investors and venture capitalists. SBIR/STTR awards support high-tech research and development that can strengthen the economy and help the United States stay at the forefront of innovation. A requirement of the STTR program is the partnership between the qualified small business and a nonprofit research institution or university such as the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Nevada, Reno. STTR’s most important role is to bridge the gap between the basic sciences and commercialization.

Workshops and Training

SAGE South on campus

Join us each semester for a week of workshops designed to help inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs – students, faculty, and community members – learn how to launch and fund technology-based startups. Workshops may be held virtually during campus alternative operations.

SAGE South offers a variety of workshops and webinars, as well as individual consulting and mentoring. There is a difference between traditional awards such as R01s and SBIR/STTR programs – the expected outcomes under SBIR/STTR awards have to lead to commercial application. Depending on the agency, SBIR/STTR programs can award from $100,000 to $300,000 for a Phase I project, with Phase II awards being typically $750,000 or more. A successful SBIR/STTR application requires an understanding of how to do market research, assess the market need for your idea, and the development of a commercialization plan. SBIR/STTR awards provide non-dilutive funding thereby increasing the value of your company. 

SBIR/STTR online tutorials

Upcoming Events

No upcoming events listed at this time.


Submit your business idea

Tell us about your business or innovation and a little about yourself to get started with our program

Learn about options for grant funding

Get an overview of phased and fast-track grant funding and amounts awarded by different agencies.

Partner organizations

Our partners provide many great services for entrepreneurs such as education, consulting and market research.


The Sierra Accelerator for Growth & Entrepreneurship (SAGE) South creates opportunity for tech entrepreneurs in Southern Nevada, providing expertise to help companies secure funding from the U.S. small business innovation research grant programs. SAGE South is a public-private partnership offered through the University of Las Vegas, Nevada Office of Economic Development and the University of Nevada, Reno Enterprise & Innovation. SAGE South provides training, webinars, and one-on-one assistance for SBIR/STTR proposals.



UNLV Office of Economic Development Phone702-895-3156

Personnel and Leadership

University of Nevada, Las Vegas 

Bo Bernhard, Ph.D.

  • Associate Vice President of Economic Development

Kegan McMullan, MBA

  • Licensing Manager, RebelForge Manager, SAGE South Coordinator

University of Nevada, Reno

Ellen Purpus, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Vice President, Enterprise & Innovation

Cara (Baird) O’Hare

  •  Technology Manager