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SBIR prime season Now

Posted by Mike Anderson on Fri, Jul 27, 2012 @ 10:36 AM

As we have discussed in this blog previously, there are 11 agencies that participate in the SBIR program.  In addition, 5 of these agencies also participate in the STTR program.  Right now there are quite a few open solicitations for Phase I (up to $150,000) from several agencies.  We have summarized the opportunities in the following table:

       

Program or Agency

Release Date

Accept Proposal

Closing Date

DOE SBIR/STTR

7/16/2012

8/13/12

10/16/12

USDA SBIR

6/14/12

6/14/12

9/6/12

HHS/NIH SBIR/STTR (Grant)

AIDS Related only

1/31/12

3/5/12

9/7/12

1/7/13

HHS/NIH SBIR/STTR (Grant)

Non-AIDS Related

1/31/12

3/5/12

8/5/12

12/5/12

DoD SBIR 2012.3

7/26/12

8/27/12

9/26/12

DoD STTR 2012.B

7/26/12

8/27/12

9/26/12

NASA SBIR/STTR

9/4/12

9/4/12

10/3/12

       

In addition, we anticipate another large group of agencies accepting proposals around the end of the year.  This group usually includes NIST, Department of Education, NOAA, DOE, DoD, DHS and NSF.  So you can see that between now and the end of the year there will be plenty of opportunities to find an SBIR topic that covers a technology that you may want to pursue. 

To put together a winning proposal, you need to spend time and do things right to assure selection.  It is a good idea to become familiar with the program officers in the different agencies to learn what their interests are and therefore what is likely to be strongly considered.  Ask questions and probe into their interests.  If a strong relationship is built ahead of time with these people, there even can be topics offered in future solicitations that are more closely matched with your specific skill sets, as long as they can be seen to help achieve the department's objectives.  Many of the SBIR topics will have an open period where you may ask the technical people and the program officers questions to find out if your technology is a match for what they are looking for.  Many companies miss this opportunity but it is crucial for a winning proposal.  The period for asking questions usually closes about a month prior to submission of proposals so this has to be started just as soon as topics are released. 

The writing of the proposal itself is also a key.  Proposals are usually limited to a number of pages (which sometimes looks like a small book).  When you consider that there will be hundreds of proposals submitted and each one is read and reviewed by multiple reviewers prior to selection, it is imperative that you can not only reach the objective of the topic but also demonstrate your expertise and why you should be selected over the other excellent competition out there.  The more succinct and to the point your message, the better chance you stand.  A well constructed proposal does a good job of summarizing the key points up front to draw the reviewer's attention into the proposal.  Don't wait for page 25 to make the key points, they won't get noticed.

The reviewers are looking for multiple key factors in each proposal. They will weigh not only the technical merit of the proposed idea but they will look for a company that is viable and can stay around long enough to follow-through with the idea.  They will look hard at the company's staff - do they have the expertise to accomplish what is proposed?  They will look hard at the company's commercialization plan - do they have larger companies interested that could help, do they have a grasp on the market for the technology and do they have a plan on how to sell this technology/product after development?  Finally there is a cost section that is combed over in much detail.  This shows the company understands what it will take to perform the research and the development to develop the concept and that it can realistically be done within the SBIR budget.  The numbers also should be developed in a fashion that the government can understand (usually described in the Federal Acquisition Regulations or FAR).  Phase I efforts are generally a fixed price type arrangement so the government isn't as interested in the cost related data but if you are lucky enough to progress to a Phase II award, the government will become very interested in your pricing, your costing and your accounting.  This normally results in a DCAA audit or review from some similar agency.  We can talk about that at another time.  Meanwhile, take advantage of this "open season" for going out and winning an SBIR or STTR grant to help fund your company through initial stages of growth.  And, don't hesitate to call us if you need some help.  ReliAscent has a track record of helping small businesses meet their compliance issues and manage their growth using government contract and grant vehicles.

Topics: SBIR/STTR, SBIR, DoD, DoE