By: John Ujvari, SBIR Program Specialist, NC SBTDC
No matter if you are new to the SBIR/STTR programs or a veteran, there are a number of pre-submission homework assignments that should be carried out as you develop a Phase 1 proposal. The SBA’s SBIR/STTR website, SBIR.gov, offers various tools to confirm agencies’ interests. Let’s walk through one of them: searching previous awards.
SBIR.gov offers insight into proposals that agencies have funded. See the award search tool here ». You can narrow down your award search by year, phase, agency, year and state. Once you have an idea that agency X, for example, has funded work similar to yours, your next step would be to look at that agencies’ solicitations to confirm their current interests. See the agency solicitations here »
In addition to gauging an agencies’ interests, several other major benefits of an award search are: reading the abstract of the funded project and identifying the actual companies that were awarded. This gives you insight into how an awarded proposal’s abstract is written (just to be clear, even if a proposal is awarded, it doesn’t mean that the abstract is stellar). This search can also lead you to possible collaborators. Just because anther company won an award in a field similar to yours does not mean you should look at them solely as a competitor. The awardees’ business name, PI contact name, phone number and email address are all included which enables you to reach out, should you be seeking a collaborator.
Remember your proposal is a product and the agency is the customer of your proposal. You want to be sure that your customer has purchased similar products to the one you are selling. Be sure to avoid the proverbial “trying to sell a snowball to an eskimo”. Your goal should be to make sure that the agency has a general interest in what you are selling. It is it likely that if a customer had a recent interest in a product, that customer may still have a general interest in what you are selling today.