Start with the End in Mind

By John Ujvari, SBIR Program Specialist, NC SBTDC

With summer right around the corner, vacation is on most of our minds. Let’s use the idea of vacation planning and how that relates to developing an SBIR/STTR proposal. When the first day of vacation finally arrives, you are excited to hop in the car or catch a flight. Do you know where you are headed? Is it the beach, the mountains, the jungle or perhaps a tropical island? Of course you do. If you are driving, you looked up directions and know how long of a drive it is. If you are flying, you have purchased tickets and made sure your connecting flights match. Would you take a vacation and just hop in the car or catch a flight not knowing where you are going to go? For most of us, the answer is “no”, although I must say that an unknown destination is somewhat intriguing. You know that once you arrive, you have accommodations set up and you have thought about the various things you will do to fill your days.

How can this possibly relate to SBIR/STTR? It has to do with starting your journey to SBIR/STTR-land with a clear destination in mind. The destination being the product / service that results from the research you carry out in Phase 1 and 2. The federal agency that you apply to, in their proposal review process, wants to be sure that they are funding your business to get to a particular destination. That particular destination, or “The End” as I like to say, has to be a product or a service that fulfills the mission of the agency and has a significant market need. You must show the reviewers that the funding that they provide will be impactful in carrying out the research and product development.

We have seen many proposals that are well-written, have a solid research plan, and team that is top-notch in their field. What some of these proposals are lacking is the product and market description! The SBTDC is available, via its no-cost counseling / advisory service to help your business strategize about these important concepts. We are also available to review your proposal prior to submission to the agency. We ask that you submit your proposal to us at least 2 weeks before the deadline. This way you will have enough time to act upon our recommendations to strengthen your proposal.

In conclusion, when you consider SBIR/STTR funding, be sure that your destination is a solid product or service, something that fulfills a major need and will ultimately bring your business revenue. Happy summer travels!

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