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Match Your Product to Agency Mission for SBIR/STTR Success

December 9th, 2016 | by Michael Kurek

matchingFinding the best agency to fund your new product idea can be frustrating. You’ve identified a market need and know exactly how to solve the problem of your preferred target customer. The only catch is that the agency does not share your enthusiasm for the proposed product or its market potential. How to proceed?

First of all, realize that many solid, and potentially profitable, product ideas are not suitable for the SBIR or STTR programs. Perhaps there’s not enough innovation or the product simply does not match the agency’s mission or research priorities.

Although a granting agency, such as the National Science Foundation, has such broad technology interests you’re almost guaranteed to find a home for your idea…as long as it’s innovative and has commercial potential…not all agencies are equally accommodating.

A contracting agency, such as the Department of Defense, generally wants you to help solve a specific technical problem of theirs (they publish more than 600 such problems every year). However, if your product idea does not directly address their problem they won’t even read your proposal.

Between those two extremes lie both granting and contracting agencies. A granting agency might have a limited number of broad areas of interest that remain fairly stable from year-to-year, such as USDA. Others might have a recurring interest in a field, such as solar energy, but emphasize different problems or technologies within that field in each annual solicitation. Many of the contracting agencies operate similarly. Remember, the agencies use their SBIR/STTR programs to help achieve their overall mission.

Ultimately, it comes down to advice an entrepreneur hears all too often…”know your customer.” View the challenge as matching your company’s product development interests and capabilities with the agency’s mission and research priorities. You can:

  • Search the award databases to discover whether an agency has previously funded projects similar to yours
  • Talk to program officers…not only about your product but also about the broader capabilities of your company or your technology. You might educate them to new possibilities…and in the process uncover new opportunities for your company.
  • Suggest topics ideas; several agencies actively solicit them.
    If there’s some interest from the agency but not a perfect match, consider ways to
    “customize” your project to better meet the agency’s needs. Your flexibility and creative thinking might just pay off!

If there’s some interest from the agency but not a perfect match, consider ways to “customize” your project to better meet the agency’s needs. Your flexibility and creative thinking might just pay off!


Michael Kurek, PhD, is Sr. Principal Consultant, BBCetc

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Post-Award Changes Don’t Have to Be Daunting

November 11th, 2016 | by Kris Bergman

You’ve submitted an SBIR/STTR proposal and have been awarded. Great news, right? But before you receive any money something in your company changes from that portrayed in your proposal. Panic time? Not necessarily. Agencies recognize that the budget presented in your application is somewhat “experimental,” and between the time you submit and receive any money,

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Applying to NSF? Time to Get Cracking!

October 17th, 2016 | by Michael Kurek

The National Science Foundation has released its SBIR 16-599 and STTR 16-600 solicitations. These are two separate solicitations, this cycle with the same deadline of Dec. 6 and now with the same maximum budget of $225,000 for a Phase I award with a duration of 6-12 months. We’ve highlighted some key considerations for this cycle’s

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Be “Pitch Perfect” When You Talk to Program Managers

September 6th, 2016 | by Becky Aistrup

Imagine you are in an elevator with someone who is important to your business. You have from the time you step in until the doors re-open to present your busy listener with a succinct understanding your technology, the problem-solving impact it will make and why they should take note. And, you must do this in

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Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking: Long Name, Easier Submission

August 24th, 2016 | by Kris Bergman

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more and more SBIR/STTR applicants are choosing to make their submissions through the Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking – or ASSIST – introduced late last year. If you haven’t heard about ASSIST, it is NIH’s web-based service for the preparation, submission, and tracking of

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Don’t Make these NIH Submission Mistakes

August 11th, 2016 | by Kris Bergman

Navigating the maze of registrations, forms, the ins and outs of submission through the NIH’s web-based Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking (or ASSIST) can be a challenging process for even the most experienced SBIR/STTR applicant. With the NIH September 5 deadline approaching, we thought we’d share our top 5 mistakes to avoid

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How Do You Measure Up? Biosketches Tell the Story

July 7th, 2016 | by Kris Bergman

Biosketches are key for reviewers to gauge the technical breadth of your team and its capacity to complete the project. At BBCetc we’ve seen summary statements, debriefings and criticisms of proposals denied funding because the team’s skills were lacking or were not properly detailed. As you prepare your SBIR/STTR proposals collect your technical team’s biosketches

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From the Experts: Essential Info for DoD SBIR/STTR Proposers

May 31st, 2016 | by Becky Aistrup

BBCetc’s Michigan SBIR/STTR support program was honored to welcome Richard McNamara, NAVSEA SBIR Transition Manager, and Jonathan Leggett, NAVSEA SBIR Outreach Coordinator, to a recent DoD Proposal Prep workshop in Ann Arbor, MI. Throughout the session and during their brief about the NAVSEA SBIR program, McNamara and Leggett offered advice for applicants to consider as

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Revenue Projections Should Match SBIR/STTR Commercialization Plan

May 2nd, 2016 | by Michael Kurek

As you go about preparing the revenue projections for your SBIR/STTR proposal, be aware that reviewers will make two assumptions about your revenue projections: 1) they’re based on guesses, and 2) the numbers are over-estimated. Typically, they are correct 99+% of the time. So your goal is not to convince them that yours are “conservative”

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Four Tips to Prepare for DoD’s New Solicitation

April 19th, 2016 | by Becky Aistrup

The Dept. of Defense (DoD) will pre-release its SBIR 2016.2 and STTR 2016.B on April 22 when components participating in the solicitation will issue the topics for which they seek proposals. If you think your technology might have an application for a DoD component and topic, here are four things you should be thinking about

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