Countless SBIR grants fall at the final hurdle because applicants don’t take care of grant writing basics. If your business is in the startup phase it’s likely you don’t have an experienced SBIR grant writer on staff. If you’re completing your own application, it’s crucial to keep the basics in mind. Keep reading for five simple tips which form the basis of any winning SBIR grant application.
1) Start early
In an ideal world, you should be prepared with more or less everything you may need for your application on day one of a solicitation.
Of course, that’s not always possible. But The work that goes into a winning SBIR proposal begins months or even years ahead. Getting started on an application two weeks before it’s due is unlikely to lead to success. You need to plan for a minimum of a month’s work and even that could be a stretch, depending on complexity.
Download all available solicitation documents on day one. From there, you can build a plan which will detail everything you need to construct a winning proposal before the deadline.
Your plan should include a checklist of items and documents you need to submit, details of how to submit them, and a timeline where you detail your internal milestones and all relevant deadlines.
Register as soon as possible on System for Award Management (SAM), Research.gov, the SBIR Company Registry, and Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS). SAM, in particular, can take up to three weeks, so plan to do this step at least one month before the deadline.
2) Prepare in advance
That means knowing your innovation, which agencies it’s likely to interest, and what those agencies look for in applications.
If your innovation requires deep scientific or technical explanation, you can prepare this ahead of time. Likewise, lists of past innovative work, descriptions of research methods, and inventory of equipment and facilities can be prepared in advance.
The fact is that the majority of work that goes into a successful proposal should take place before the topics are published. Completing your application alone represents a massive volume of work. Unless you’re a fan of high blood pressure, save yourself the stress and complete everything you can BEFORE the competition begins.
3) Communicate with SBIR Program Officers
If you’re anything less than 100% confident about your innovation and how it addresses the topic requirements, communicating with SBIR Program Officers is a crucial step in a successful application.
They want to award these grants, and they want to see applications which properly address the specification. So take the time to prepare a short (1–2 page) summary of your idea and email it to the relevant Program Officer. They’ll be happy to discuss the merits of your idea and indicate whether they think it meets the solicitation’s requirements.
As always, sooner is better; sending a summary a week before the deadline might not get you the response you’re looking for. Aim to reach out 2+ months before the due date.
Projects including America’s Seed Fund have formalized this stage of the process and now require applicants to submit a Project Pitch before proceeding with a full application. If you’re not invited to proceed, you’ll receive feedback which can prove invaluable for future applications.
4)Take the time to do it right
SBIR grants are highly competitive, particularly at phase II when you’re stepping into the marketplace. Completing an application properly can represent hundreds of hours of work, and you can bet your competitors have put in the time.
If you’re writing the proposal yourself, consider paying an SBIR grant writer with a winning track record
5) See successful proposals
Even experienced SBIR grant writers make regular use of proposal samples. If you don’t already have a strong track record of SBIR grant success, getting eyes on other businesses’ successful proposals can make the difference between success and failure.
Professional grant writers know that there’s no substitute for developing your own understanding of each unique opportunity. But they can make that process a lot quicker and easier, and typical time savings range from 10–30 hours. Browse our SBIR proposal sample packages below to get started with your winning SBIR grant.