Will your innovation driven small business be a one trick pony? While there are many successful singular product companies, this is a risk prone business strategy. Given that the risks associated with product commercialization are high, if your one product fails, this could lead to failure of your entire business. A potentially more productive, sound business strategy, is to consider the development of a technology platform.
Platform technologies often allow for multiple, non-duplicative research initiatives, each of which may lead to it own products that target unique markets. The SBIR/STTR programs are a terrific funding resource to test the concepts of and develop these multiple products. As SBTDC counselors advise small business on the effective use of the SBIR/STTR programs, we often help clients devise a strategy where they strategically “silo” their technical interests into potentially separate R&D projects. Once siloed, matching SBIR/STTR solicitations can be researched for each silo. The ultimate goal here is for a Phase I and Phase II SBIR to fund the unique R&D work in each silo that will each lead to a unique, commercializable project.
Multiple awards can be received from the same agency or different agencies. The key to this strategy is that the R&D proposed in each Phase I / II must not overlap with the R&D activities proposed in other Phase I / II submissions. Looking at historical SBIR/STTR awards in NC, many companies that have received multiple awards from the same or different agencies have developed a variety of successful commercial projects that align with their target customer market.
Other benefits of the multiple submission and awards strategy is keeping your R&D team adequately funded during down times, for example when you are awaiting a review between Phase 1 and Phase 2.
Key take away – be creative in siloing your technical areas of interest, research the fit with each of the silos with various agencies and think about how the resulting products will fit within your sales and marketing strategy.