(1) The department shall establish a financial assistance program to provide financial assistance to businesses operating in Nebraska that employ no more than five hundred employees or to individuals that have a prototype of a product or process for the purposes of commercializing such product or process. The applicant shall submit a feasibility study stating the potential sales and profit projections for the product or process.
(2) The department shall create a program with the following provisions to support commercialization of a product or process:
(a) Commercialization infrastructure documentation, including market assessments and start-up strategic planning;
(b) Promotion, marketing, advertising, and consulting;
(c) Management and business planning support;
(d) Linking companies and entrepreneurs to mentors;
(e) Preparing companies and entrepreneurs to acquire venture capital; and
(f) Linking companies to sources of capital.
(3) Funds shall be matched by nonstate funds 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.
(4) The department shall not provide more than five hundred thousand dollars to any one project. Each year the department may award up to four million dollars under this section.
(5) Financial assistance provided under this section shall be expended within twenty-four months after the date of the awarding decision.
(6) To carry out this section, the department shall contract with one statewide venture development organization that is incorporated in the State of Nebraska and exempt for federal tax purposes under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.