February 14, 2012

DxR secures small business export assistance

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- DxR Development Group, which has a longstanding connection to the Entrepreneurship and Business Development Unit at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is the first to acquire the State Trade and Export Promotion Program (STEP) award through the unit’s International Trade Center. 

DxR will receive up to $5,000 in small business export assistance through the initiative.  The U.S. Small Business Administration launched STEP in 2011, awarding $1.26 million to assist Illinois companies in securing new overseas market for their products and services. Hurley Myers, founder, president and CEO of DxR, is a professor emeritus in the SIU School of Medicine and the company began as a spinout of his work at the University.

Myers created a software product that utilizes problem-based case studies to assist health care students, residents and physicians in their training, giving them the chance to use the virtual patients to make clinical decisions as they would with a living patient.  DxR began as a small business and has grown substantially, becoming a private sector business with a presence in the global marketplace including the Middle East, Japan and China.  The STEP funding will facilitate an expansion into Malaysia.

“The Illinois Office of Trade and Investment is happy to assist DxR with STEP Grant funding for their strategic export plans in Southeast Asia.  As a previous Illinois Export Award winner, the company has a proven track record in their approach to global markets,” said Tony Larocca, senior international trade specialist, Asia-Pacific, for the Illinois Office of Trade and Investment.

DxR will utilize the financial assistance to attend the biennial Ottawa Conference on the Assessment of Competence in Medicine and the Healthcare Professions, an international forum where health care professions educators network and share ideas pertinent to clinical and non-clinical aspects of health care education.

“The fact that we are at this conference ‘talking the talk’ is an important part of our marketing strategy, particularly for the Asia market,” Myers said.  “DxR Development Group has already made inroads into the Asian market with Japanese and Mandarin Chinese translations of its popular DxR Clinician virtual patient software.  Having the opportunity to participate in this international medical education conference will help us build on our past successes in Asia, particularly at a time when many Asian countries are looking for ways to improve health care professional education and patient care.  If I had to guess, I would say our presence at this conference could help us realize between $100,000 and $150,000 in new sales, probably spread out over a one- to two-year period following the conference.”

Receipt of STEP funding is on a competitive basis, with awards ranging from $1,500 to $5,000.  Companies have two options for applying.  They may attend one of 10 specified trade missions or submit proposals for funding for individual international business travel.  To be eligible, companies must meet specific qualification guidelines pertaining to minimum annual revenue and length of time in operation. 

“This program is exceptional because the funding goes directly into the company to assist in its global business sales, which can be extremely expensive for a small business.  Helping put small companies at these large, worldwide trade shows and in front of the right people is a huge benefit to assist them in gaining international sales contracts,” said Robyn Laur Russell, director of business development and international trade for the University.

Funding is still available and companies must apply for the funding assistance through their regional International Trade Center.  The STEP program is a partnership between the Illinois Office of Trade and Investment and the International Trade Centers.  The International Trade Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is located within the Illinois Small Business Development Center at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center.

For more information about the program or any of the services offered, contact Russell at the Illinois Small Business Development Center/International Trade Center at 618/453-3805 or by emailing rrussell@biz.siu.edu.