The SBIR, or Small Business Innovation Research program, is a federal government program which gives grants to small businesses which have promising ideas that require development. Such ideas are often too risky for venture capitalists or even the company itself to undertake. To qualify for such a grant, an SBIR grant proposal must be written and submitted for approval. Writing such a proposal is a rather detailed undertaking; however, by expressing yourself clearly, proving that you are credible and following the rules as set out for grant proposals, you will be able to put together a good proposal.
There are a number of good business practices that your company must follow to be considered a strong candidate for the SBIR; to learn about these practices and how to implement them it's a good idea to take online business management courses.
You need to write the following sections for your particular proposal:
- Identification and Significance of the Innovation
- Background, Technical Approach and Anticipated Benefits or Objectives
- Research Plan, which must be very specific and show evidence of your knowledge of the subject
- Related Research and Development
- Relationship with Future R&D
- Commercial Applications Potential
- Company Information
- Key Personnel, including short resumes for each
- Consultants and Subcontracts, including short resumes for each
- Potential Post-Applications
- Current and Pending Support
You must do a lot of research in preparation for writing a grant proposal. Contain your writing to data, not opinions. The objectives of the proposal and the qualifications of the key personnel should be the lengthiest sections of the proposal. The other sections should only be a couple of pages long for a maximum of 24 pages. Be sure to mention the specific SBIR grant and the agency that is involved, connecting your project to how it will be beneficial.
You will also need to create a cover letter for your SBIR grant proposal summarizing what you are proposing. This will be one of the first things in the grant proposal but is best prepared last. It must be included in the 24 page count.
Some things to avoid include neglecting to state the significance of this work. It must be stated or your application will likely be rejected. Do not mention any problems, in fact if there are any problems you are dealing with, they should be taken care of before you apply for the SBIR grant. Do not simply repeat the issue that the grant is supposed to address, instead show understanding for it, so the agency responsible can be confident that you are a good match. Avoid being too general; it is important to focus on a couple of points and elaborate well.
Getting an SBIR grant can make all the difference in the success or failure of a small business. Commit to mastering the SBIR grant proposal process in order to get the grants that your firm needs and deserves. The competition is steep, as only about 15% of Phase I grant proposals are accepted; therefore, you need to excel in your proposal. Investing in the services of a professional grant writer is a very wise move for a company that has never applied for a SBIR grant before; so is ensuring that your company adheres to good business practices and standards by taking regular online business continuing education classes.
Jason Kay recommends reviewing sample SBIR proposals to help you write your own SBIR grant proposal.