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January 16th, 2015 | by Jayne Berkaw

top10_1We prepared our top 10 tips to have at our display table at the National SBIR/STTR Conference in Austin, TX, last November. We received lots of nice comments on it and with 2015 just getting underway, we thought it a good time to share them on our blog.


Take care of the pesky registrations required by every agency. No matter how much we beg and cajole, we still have companies that start the process too late or don’t pay enough attention to the details. The result? Failure to submit!


Get going on your proposal early. Planning a proposal 3-4 months in advance is reasonable, and skimping on development time will come back to haunt you!


Before you make a move toward proposal preparation, be sure to go over the solicitation with a fine toothed comb. There is simply no better place to start than at the source, which can answer your questions and solve mysteries!


Ok, now that you’ve carefully read the solicitation, follow the rules it sets out! Rules for things like page limits, margins, font sizes, headings, etc. are not suggestions, and failure to play by the rules can lead to rejection without consideration.


Even if yours is a platform technology, focusing on a single product or application will make your proposal more credible and achievable. The most successful companies know they cannot be all things to all people. Decide what you must prove, how you’ll do it, and whose help you’ll need and then go for the gusto!


Don’t assume anything about what your customer needs. The only way to know for sure is to ask. Whether it is SBIR agency personnel or customers in your target market segments, the risk of developing the wrong product or proposal is extremely high if you don’t get their input.


The budget may not directly impact the technical and commercial review of a proposal but will always be taken into consideration for overall funding decisions. So make sure yours is well crafted and supports the work proposed. Veteran reviewers can sniff out an inappropriate budget, so keep it real, keep it accurate and keep it honest.


Electronic submission sounds fast and easy. Don’t believe it! Proposals are often submitted with errors, and it can take time to get them corrected before the deadline. Not allowing yourself some breathing room can have dire consequences (i.e., rejection).


Find organizations, consultants or advisers that bring unique and complementary expertise to your company or project and add them to your team. Challenge them to challenge you to look at what you are doing from a new perspective.


Following these tips will improve both your proposals and likelihood of funding, but remember that few applicants are funded the first time around. If your proposal isn’t funded, carefully study agency feedback, fully address their concerns and try again!


BBCetc is comprised of a group of geeks and gurus of commercialization and non-dilutive federal R&D funding for early-stage technology companies. Services include training courses and one-on-one consulting in the areas of commercialization planning, research grant assistance, SBIR/STTR training and proposal development assistance, grants and contracts management and tech-based economic development programs. Contact us at: / 734.930.9741

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Policies & Procedures are a Must, So Buckle Down and Get it Done

October 24th, 2014 | by Kris Bergman

Most Policies & Procedures (P&P) manuals sit in a corner collecting dust and are pulled out only as a reference of last resort. But take note, SBIR/STTR applicants and awardees, agencies expect you to have P&Ps in place to serve as your bible for managing your funds and activities. And practically speaking, if you ever

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Market Research is Key to Commercialization Success

September 26th, 2014 | by Michael Kurek

Articulating a compelling commercialization strategy in your SBIR/STTR proposal is more important than ever for funding success. A credible commercialization plan must be built on a foundation of current and relevant information about the commercial opportunity you’re pursuing. The process of gathering, analyzing and interpreting that information is called Market Research. Market research is used

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Check Out New Subtopics for Latest NSF SBIR/STTR Cycle

September 3rd, 2014 | by Michael Kurek

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released its latest SBIR solicitation with a submission deadline of December 2, 2014. We can expect the STTR solicitation to be coming shortly. In the meantime there are some new technology subtopics that you should check out: Biomedical Technologies (BM) BM5. Noninvasive Imaging of Brain Function Educational Technologies and

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Broad Area Announcements Offer an Additional Funding Source

August 18th, 2014 | by Becky Aistrup

Although they are not generally small business set-asides, Broad Area Announcements (BAAs) can be an R&D funding source for small companies to consider in addition to the various agency SBIR/STTR programs. The BAA is a competitive solicitation process used to obtain proposals for basic and applied research, as well as for that part of development

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Budget Justification an Important, yet Underutilized Part of Proposals

July 16th, 2014 | by Kris Bergman

If you’re preparing an SBIR/STTR proposal for the upcoming Aug. 5 NIH or other agency deadline don’t underestimate the power of your budget justification. Numbers on a spreadsheet are only half of the story. Reviewers need to see WHY you are spending money on the things in your budget. Here are some important things to remember:

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What to Do — and Not Do — to Get Your Technology in Front of DOD

June 30th, 2014 | by Jayne Berkaw

Chad Darr, Director of Product Development for Loc Performance Products, Inc. knows a thing or two about getting products in front of the Dept. of Defense. Located in Plymouth, MI, Loc is an SBIR awardee and a full-service manufacturer of large CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machined components and mechanical assemblies for military and commercial applications.

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Strategic Partnering for SBIR-Stage Companies: Finding Your Strategic Partner

June 11th, 2014 | by Michael Kurek

This is the third in a BBCetc series on various aspects of finding, consummating, and maintaining a productive inter-company partnership. Part one / Part two In many ways, the process of finding the right strategic partner is not much different than finding the right customer for your product. Both involve identifying and understanding a problem.

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Telling Your Story: Formatting and Readability Tips for SBIR/STTR Proposals

May 30th, 2014 | by Andrea Johanson

A good SBIR/STTR proposal is made infinitely better by writing and formatting that enhances readability and showcases your technology to its best advantage. So, before you dig in, start by knowing who it is that you are writing for. Depending on the agency, SBIR/STTR proposals may undergo an internal review, an external review, or a

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Strategic Partnering for SBIR-Stage Companies: Types of Strategic Alliances

May 6th, 2014 | by Michael Kurek

This is the second in a BBCetc series on various aspects of finding, consummating, and maintaining a productive inter-company partnership. Read part one. Strategic alliances come in all shapes and sizes and adapt to a variety of purposes. The most common include: Pooled Purchasing Supplier Partnering Distribution Partnering Franchising and licensing agreements R&D Partnerships (sometimes

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