Once we began our firm in 2002, enterprise capital was scarce, so we sought alternative routes to finance the enterprise. The Small Enterprise Modern Analysis (SBIR) program, particularly the one provided by way of the Nationwide Science Basis (NSF), is top quality supply of funding. I’ve personally labored on proposals which have gained awards from the Division of Protection (DoD) and the NSF totaling over $2.1 million. I’m additionally a enterprise reviewer for Section II proposals for the NSF. I’ve each been by way of the proposal course of and the choice course of.
The SBIR Program
The SBIR program was created in 1982 as a part of the Small Enterprise Innovation Growth Act. Eleven Federal departments and businesses are required below this act to order a portion of their R&D funds to be awarded to small companies every year.
To obtain an award below this program, an organization should be American-owned and independently operated, for-profit, and below 500 staff. Moreover, the principal researcher should be employed at the very least 51% of the time by the enterprise. There’s nonetheless some debate as as to if venture-backed firms qualify if the VCs personal greater than 50%. Converse with this system supervisor to find out your eligibility if you happen to fall on this class. Every company determines its personal subjects and quantities for the awards (inside parameters). The web sites for all of the SBIR applications are listed on the DoD SBIR webpage.
The Newest NSF Solicitation
The NSF has a reasonably complete web site that covers the submission tips. Your life shall be simpler if you happen to assessment this web site lengthy earlier than the submission deadline. The deadline for the spring 2008 spherical has handed, however begin pondering now about your attainable submissions for the autumn. The solicitation for the spring has been posted and the proposal is due on June tenth at 5:00 pm. This can be a laborious deadline they usually offers you no leeway if you happen to miss it. Every firm might submit as much as 4 proposals in a single spherical.
The subjects for this spherical embrace Biotech and Chemical Applied sciences, Software program and Companies, and Electronics, Parts, and Engineering Programs.
The Section I shall be for not more than $100,000. You might be normally notified 4 to 6 months after the proposal has been submitted. If you happen to ought to win this grant, you’ll start the grant interval in late 2008 or early 2009. You get 2/3 of the cash up entrance and 1/3 on the finish. After six months of analysis, do you have to discover success, chances are you’ll apply for a Section II grant as much as $500,000. Once more, chances are you’ll apply in both January or July following the completion and, if profitable, you’ll obtain your funds in one other six months: 25% up entrance, 15% on the finish, and 20% thrice throughout the course of the challenge. A Section II is normally 24 months. Please observe, that for the primary 12 months, you might be spreading a small sum of money over a fairly lengthy interval. That is helpful for funding a few of your improvement with non-dilutive funds, however not significantly helpful at offering working capital.
Successful Your Section I
- Perceive the solicitation subject: they’re very critical about sticking to the subjects. The subjects for this spherical are pretty broad, however if in case you have a sophisticated materials that decreases the wind resistance on airplane, it doesn’t matter how fabulous it’s, you’ll have to wait till the Superior Supplies solicitation. Name this system officer and discover out if they’re earlier than you do all of the work on the proposal.
- Have an modern expertise. They aren’t attention-grabbing in funding enhancements. Moreover, the proposal is reviewed by somebody who actually understands the expertise. Don’t skimp on technical particulars since you assume the reader can’t perceive it. If this system supervisor doesn’t perceive what you might be doing, they may discover somebody who does. You’ll not achieve success in the event that they don’t have the data needed to grasp what you are trying to do.
- Have a superb commercialization plan. In Section I, they aren’t anticipating an intensive marketing strategy, with a full advertising and marketing marketing campaign outlined. They’re, nonetheless, going to anticipate you to have a superb understanding of who may purchase this product, why they’d wish to purchase it, and what they is likely to be keen to spend for it. They will even anticipate that the market be at the very least massive sufficient to assist your organization as a business enterprise. And by no means, by no means say “there isn’t a market but for my product as a result of it’s so modern” or “there are not any opponents for my product.” When the automotive was invented, the market was everybody who owned a horse and wagon. Opponents had been all the things that might transfer an individual from one spot to a different.
- Present letters of assist. It’s truly a requirement for this solicitation, however even when it’s not a requirement, it’s a extremely good thought. Good letters of assist come from representatives of firms that shall be concerned with shopping for your product. In the most effective case, they may say that they may purchase it, in case you are profitable. Typically the best factor to do is write the letter your self and ask the consultant to repeat it onto his or her firm letterhead and signal it. If you happen to embrace a number of letters, don’t present the identical copy to each supporter – it makes you appear like an fool.
- Name this system officer properly earlier than the due date. Okay, I stated this earlier than, but it surely bears repeating in case you missed it. This system managers whom I’ve met are clever, devoted individuals. They’re very enthusiastic about these applied sciences and educated of their areas of experience. They are often very useful in creating your proposal. That being stated, don’t pester them on little particulars, they’re additionally very overworked. It’s most likely a good suggestion to name sooner slightly than later.
- Let another person learn your proposal earlier than you submit it. That somebody ought to have a really sturdy command of the English language and will have the ability to let you recognize if the proposal reads properly, presents the concepts clearly, and has good spelling and grammar. Additionally, don’t be intelligent in your presentation of the doc. Instances New Roman, 12 level, is the font of alternative for newspapers, books and magazines for a motive – it’s simple on the eyes. Don’t make your reviewer’s job tougher than it must be.
Some Technical Notes
- You might be required to submit your proposal by way of FastLane. Join with FastLane and begin utilizing it instantly. It’s fairly simple when you get used to it, however often there are technical glitches and they’re going to occur to you if you happen to wait till the final minute.
- Get a DUNS quantity instantly if you happen to don’t have one. Name Dun and Bradstreet at (800) 333-0505 or discover them on-line at http://www.dnb.com/us/. You will want a DUNS quantity to enroll with FastLane.
Successful Your Section II
There isn’t a official solicitation for a Section II. If in case you have accomplished your Section I NSF SBIR, you might be eligible to use for a Section II grant. Chances are you’ll apply both the 2 following cycles, which means if you happen to accomplished your Section I in December, chances are you’ll apply both by January thirty first or July thirty first. The web site has normal Section II proposal directions.
Ought to You Apply?
Once we are going by way of the proposals, they might be rejected for a lot of causes. Largely proposals are rejected as a result of they don’t meet the technical or business hurdles required for a Section II grant. That being stated, we periodically hit a proposal that’s rejected for different causes that might have saved the corporate and the grant committee loads of time.
If you happen to didn’t get any optimistic outcomes from Section I, don’t hassle to submit a Section II proposal. We often see firms who say mainly, “my thought for Section I didn’t pan out, however I’ve one other thought on tips on how to make this work, so I’m submitting for assist of that concept.” That’s one other Section I proposal. It will get instantly labeled as such and put within the rejection pile. Don’t hassle to submit that as a Section II proposal.
If you’re not assured of your outcomes, test along with your program supervisor. They need to be keen to counsel areas that want shoring up and in addition ought to let you recognize in the event that they don’t imagine a Section II proposal will get funded.
Writing Your Section II Proposal
The primary motive why proposals get rejected is technical. The technical assessment staff is made up of scientists and engineers within the subject of research of the solicitation. This system managers have chosen a panel that has deep information in your space of analysis. They anticipate the technical portion of the proposal to appear like some other grant, which means they anticipate all of the technical info wanted to decide on the expertise, backed up by references. I’ve heard many instances on the panel, “Properly, this appears attention-grabbing, however I don’t have sufficient info to find out whether or not it’s possible.”
If in case you have by no means been a college scientist, it behooves you to seek out one in your space of experience and ask them to assessment your technical proposal earlier than you submit it. The technical reviewers are extraordinarily brutal and are unwilling to compromise their assessment requirements.
The second motive, and far decrease on the weighting scale, is the business part. I’ve seen a expertise the place the technical reviewers rave about in its innovativeness and brilliance, however the business reviewers can’t see a market in any respect, and the challenge will get funded. I’ve by no means seen an ideal marketing strategy, with a mediocre expertise, get funded.
The marketing strategy is vital although. Ought to your proposal be positioned subsequent to a different with an identical high quality of expertise, the commercialization part can carry the day.
Your plan ought to clearly outline the steps that your organization will take to get from R&D to revenues. If it is advisable to construct a beta device after the prototype has been accomplished, you must have a transparent definition as to how you’ll fund it. Simply so you recognize, everybody says, “we’ll elevate enterprise capital.” Elevating enterprise capital is simpler stated than accomplished. If you’re going to say that, just remember to have some enterprise capitalists assessment your expertise and write letters of assist. Additionally, have different plans in case the VCs don’t drop cash in your lap.
Additionally, loads of proposals say issues like, “We’ll associate with Honeywell to fabricate our first challenge. 5 years later, we may have $50 million in income.” It appears that evidently individuals put loads of thought into getting the primary product accomplished and are good at imagining what is going to occur in 5 years, however they appear to skip the entire course of in between – which by the best way, is the laborious half.
One other commercialization difficulty is the shortage of any enterprise expertise within the administration staff. If you happen to can’t afford to rent some one, discover some enterprise advisers (and hearken to them). You can begin along with your native S.C.O.R.E. workplace.
Lastly, have somebody learn over your proposal. It must be written clearly, with no grammar or spelling errors. If you happen to can’t discover enterprise advisers or somebody to learn your proposal, why would somebody wish to give (sure, give) you $600,000.
Click on right here to go to the NSF SBIR web site. Good luck.