(1) The department shall establish a financial assistance program to provide financial assistance to businesses that employ no more than five hundred employees or to individuals for the purposes of creating a prototype of a product stemming from research and development at a business operating in Nebraska or a public or private college or university in Nebraska.
(2) Funds shall be matched by nonstate funds equivalent in money equal to fifty percent of the funds requested. Matching funds may be from any nonstate source, including private foundations, federal or local government sources, quasi-governmental entities, or commercial lending institutions, or any other funds whose source does not include funds appropriated by the Legislature. The amount the department may provide shall not exceed one hundred fifty thousand dollars per project.
(3) A business or individual applying for financial assistance under this section shall include a business plan that includes a proof-of-concept demonstration.
(4) Financial assistance under this section shall be expended within twenty-four months after the date of the awarding decision.
(5) The department may award up to four million dollars per year for financial assistance under this section.