Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 11, 2016

The Federal Government’s ‘Shark Tank’ for Small Businesses

Hosts Robert Herjavec, Lori Greiner and Daymond John of "Shark Tank" speak onstage during the ABC portion of the 2013 Winter TCA Tour Jan. 10 in Pasadena, Calif. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Hosts Robert Herjavec, Lori Greiner and Daymond John of “Shark Tank” speak onstage during the ABC portion of the 2013 Winter TCA Tour Jan. 10 in Pasadena, Calif. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Companies that have energy innovations to peddle can benefit from groups with know-how that the Small Business Administration has organized and calls clusters, according to retired Rear Adm. Steven Smith, now director of the SBA’s Office of Disaster Planning and Risk Management. The process has similarities to the ABC TV show “Shark Tank,” where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to deep-pocketed moguls.

“If you’re a small business, you may think you have some great innovation, but you may not know the market very well,” Smith told attendees Thursday at an expo hosted by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute. “Once we can find the innovative small business, we can facilitate it.”

The clusters – groups of businesses, industry leaders and academic institutions – can help small businesses to partner with a larger company or find investment funding, he said. Or they can let a company know if it is wasting its time on a technology that another company has already gotten further along.

The Minnesota cluster brings together players in 17 states to address power and energy innovation.

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  1. RADM Steve Smith

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    9:24 p.m.

    The link in the Roll Call article about SBA Energy Clusters is incorrect. The Minnesota Defense / Energy cluster can be found at or More info on SBA clusters at
    – RADM Smith

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