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Top 10 Brilliant Ideas and Stupid Mistakes: Secrets of Phase II Proposal Success

March 15th, 2017 | by Lisa Kurek

Last month, we outlined our top 10 dos and don’ts for getting your Phase I NIH proposal in shape and ready to submit before the April 5
deadline. This month we continue that theme by presenting what we have determined, over years of reviewing proposals, to be our top 10 brilliant ideas or stupid mistakes for Phase II proposals.  Here are our favorites:

Brilliant Idea: Ensure that you achieved your Phase I Aims before moving on to Phase II

  • Make it clear that you demonstrated feasibility
  • Show how the Phase I work supports the Phase II hypothesis and aims

Brilliant Idea: Describe your Phase II “deliverable”

  • Make sure it is clear what you will accomplish and deliver at the end of the Phase II
  • Have criteria driven aims to show that you’ll know when you’ve finished
  • Describe how will the outcome support/enable the next steps of the project

Stupid Mistake(s):

  • Assuming that the “state of the science” has not changed since you wrote your Phase I
  • Assuming that the “state of the market” has not changed since you wrote your Phase I
    • Conduct thorough and up-to-date literature reviews and market research and then update your significance and innovation sections

Brilliant Idea:  Expand your R&D team (including subcontractors, consultants, advisors…) and your commercialization team and resources to support your:

  • Phase II deliverables
  • Post-Phase II R&D
  • Integration into the Market

Stupid Mistake: Not developing an appropriate and comprehensive budget that addresses all of the project costs and is well justified

  • e.g.: “we’ll impress the reviewers by asking more direct costs and less indirect costs”
  • e.g.: “let’s ask for more money because we can”

Brilliant Idea: Develop your detailed commercialization plan as soon as you get your Phase I funded (if not before)

  • Developing a credible, validated commercialization plan can take a long time. Don’t wait until the end of Phase I to start!

Stupid Mistake: Having the “Build it and they will come” commercialization strategy

  • Make sure to validate all of your commercialization plan assumptions (e.g. that you can raise capital, or engage in strategic partnerships) by providing letters of validation with your commercialization plan.

Stupid Mistake: Convincing yourself of the value of the solution (e.g. product) to the problem (e.g., market) based on secondary market research (e.g. numbers)

  • Don’t just rely on numbers. They can mislead.
  • Don’t outsource your primary market research. Talk to customers directly to test your market assumptions!

Brilliant Idea: If you have IP, are in the process of obtaining IP, and/or, expect to develop IP…..

  • Explain how your IP enables your commercialization strategy
  • If you don’t have IP or plan to develop IP….Explain how you can implement a commercialization strategy without IP

Brilliant Idea: Validate Your Commercialization Assumptions — Especially the financing ones

  • Know when “when” is, e.g., when…
    • Investors will fund us
    • Strategic partners will engage with us
    • The market wants this
    • The market will pay for this

If BBCetc can help you develop your Phase II or Phase I proposal, contact us! Bottom line: it’s best to:


Lisa Kurek is Partner Emerita and Sr. Principal Consultant for BBCetc

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10 Dos and Don’ts for Your Phase I NIH Proposal

February 2nd, 2017 | by Lisa Kurek

If you’re planning to submit for the April 5 NIH SBIR/STTR deadline, now is the time to start laying out the steps you’ll need to take to get your polished, compelling Phase I proposal submitted before the deadline. Over the years, BBCetc consultants have reviewed a great many NIH proposals and accumulated a long list

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Match Your Product to Agency Mission for SBIR/STTR Success

December 9th, 2016 | by Michael Kurek

Finding 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

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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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