There is no question that as the Federal Budget goes down, all aspects will probably follow suit. But all is not lost. The government is still the largest purchaser of goods and services in the world. Yes, the defense budget is taking a severe hit. As the overall budget goes down, the R&D portion of the budget will suffer. This will affect the money available for the SBIR and STTR programs as they are a percentage of the extramural R&D budget of the agency. While the Defense budget is highly scrutinized (because it makes up the largest part of the Federal Budget it only makes sense) there are other areas of the Federal Budget that are not seeing severe cuts. There are parts of the Energy budget that are in fact growing. There are some areas in HHS that also are not heavily affected. These areas represent some opportunities for some small businesses, especially related to the SBIR/STTR programs.
As an example, the Department of Energy just released new SBIR and STTR topics related to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. They have also announced additional resources and support for SBIR/STTR applicants. The Department of Energy is strongly encouraging minority owned and women owned businesses to apply. The major areas of emphasis in the current solicitation include:
- Integrating Energy Efficient Solid-State Lighting with Advanced Sensors and Controls
- Prototype Fuel Cell-Battery Electric Hybrid Truck for Waste Transportation
- Software Tools for Photovoltaic Soft Cost Reductions and Grid Integration
- U.S. Offshore Wind Personnel and Equipment Transfer Systems
- Novel Membranes and Non-Platinum Group Metal Catalysts for Direct Methanol Fuel Cells
The latest oppportunity will have the following deadlines for those interested:
- Funding Opportunity Announcement released and application period begins: November 25, 2013
- Letters of Intent deadline: December 16, 2013
- Applications deadline: February 04, 2014
Now is the time to act on this one. There will also be a new solicitation for the Department of Defense coming open soon (DOD SBIR 2014.1 opens Dec 20th). There are several other agencies with solicitations opening soon including:
- NIST (Topics announced 11/15, Solicitation out Dec 13)
- NSF (Proposals accepted 11/2/13 thru 12/2/13)
I would encourage small firms to check out these solicitations if you are interested in pursuing an SBIR grant. The time is now for proposals. Let's do some outreach and solciit funds to evolve our companies. Let me know if anyone needs help.