SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) grants

What is the SBIR program?

SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) is a U.S. government program administered by 11 federal agencies to provide early-stage Research and Development funding to small technology companies.
Congress designated these major goals for the program:
  1. Stimulate technological innovation
  2. Engage small business to meet federal R&D needs
  3. Increase private-sector commercialization from federal R&D
The main purpose of SBIR is to financially assist small technology firms (< 500 employees) to conduct R&D and commercialize products that address the nation's most critical scientific and engineering needs. Commercialization is a critical aim of the SBIR program. Proposal solicitations are released periodically from each agency covering their areas of highest technical research interest. U.S. companies are invited to compete for funding by submitting proposals that address the topic needs to each individual agency. Agencies with SBIR funding include:
  • Department of Defense (DOD) including Army, AF, Navy DARPA, SOCOM, MDA and 6 others
  • Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
  • National Aerospace and Science Administration (NASA)
  • Department of Energy (DOE)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Department of Commerce (DOC) including NIST and NOAA
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • Department of Education (ED)
SBIR is a 3-stage program. Phase I is a feasibility study awarded up to $100,000 and lasting 6 months. Successful completion allows recipients to pursue Phase II funding, which is a full R&D program funded over 2 years up to $750,000. Phase III is the Commercialization stage which must use non-SBIR funds. Aistrup Consulting has helped small technology companies succeed at all 3 phases of the SBIR process. Every agency has its own funding levels, criteria and requirements, so be sure you check with each individual agency about their specific programs. See our helpful links to SBIR resources.

The all-important Commercialization Plan

You must understand the specific requirements, the mission and the objectives of the funding agency when you write your Commercialization Plan. Aistrup Consulting can help you win your initial Phase I and then that lucrative SBIR Phase II award. The Commercialization Plan describes how you plan to bring the results of your SBIR funding to the marketplace—What is your plan for Phase III? Every funding agency has slightly different terminology and criteria for the Commercialization Plan required with Phase II SBIR proposals.
  • Some agencies (such as DoD and NASA) use the SBIR and STTR programs to develop technologies they will purchase to support their missions.
    • DoD typically calls your commercialization plan a “transition strategy”.
    • NASA refers to it as the “infusion process”.
  • Other agencies (such as DOE, NIH or NSF) have a much different perspective since they don’t purchase products and technologies for their own use.
    • Developing commercialization strategies for these agencies typically means committing to a licensing model or product development plan for bringing the technology to general markets.
Competitive analysis, market sizing, pricing, development plans, and launch activities need to be addressed to demonstrate that you understand the value of the technology and to convince reviewers that you can make your innovation a real product.

Assistance for Minnesota SBIR and STTR firms:

If you are a small business located in Minnesota and you are submitting a Phase II SBIR proposal, your company may qualify for a special Minnesota State program. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED’s) Office of Science and Technology offers a program that might pay the expenses for a qualified marketing consultant like Aistrup Consulting to help you with your Phase II commercialization plan. Contact us and we can put you in touch with the current program manager at Minnesota’s DEED to learn more!

12 ways that Aistrup Consulting can help you win SBIR Phase I and Phase IIs, and move you to Phase III

To help you strengthen your proposal and win that SBIR Phase I and II funding, we’ll:
  1. Help you navigate the confusing proposal process when you submit your Phase I proposals.
  2. Identify the specific Commercialization Plan requirements for the appropriate SBIR funding agency and help you meet their needs.
  3. Hunt down all agency and commercial applications for your technology to demonstrate the need for and value of your SBIR technology, and quantify the size of these opportunities with our Market Research know how.
  4. Conduct expert and potential customer interviews to clearly identify the needs and requirements of the market.
  5. Articulate the societal, national, global and business benefits resulting from your technology.
  6. Identify competing or alternative technologies that my pose threats to your Commercialization Plans, and how you’ll successfully overcome them.
  7. Develop a compelling business development or licensing plan to demonstrate your commercialization intent.
  8. Utilize the same Strategic Marketing and Marketing Plan development capabilities that we offer to support rounds of public and private financing.
We’ll help you “make good” on your Commercialization Plan in Phase III:
  1. Prepare a rigorous, actionable Product Launch Plan.
  2. Identify and develop licensing and partnering relationships and help you negotiate agreements.
  3. Establish your Tactical Marketing Communication Plan including brochures, technical literature, web page content, trade shows, sales lead development, branding, social media and promotional activities designed specifically for your target market.
  4. Leverage your business goals and technology to locate and win additional SBIR or STTR grants.

Examples of what we’ve done

  • Conceived and led commercialization strategy development for more than 20 start-up technology companies. Clients achieved first commercial sales, industry awards such as “Startup of the Year” and funding from SBIR, private and public sources worth over $52 million.
  • Established an aggressive IP licensing program for an SBIR firm resulting in the company’s first multi-million dollar license agreement with a Fortune 100 company.
  • Formulated a proprietary multi-stage process to facilitate strategic planning for SBIR companies. Delivered training in this system to technical firms through the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health and Minnesota state business development programs that support SBIR companies.
  • Developed and wrote commercialization plans and marketing plans for companies seeking financing and government grants, resulting in over $20 million of SBIR funding and successful private and public financing rounds.

Additional SBIR links and an SBIR Glossary can be found in our “Resources” section.
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