Tips to Improve your SBIR Proposals (from an experienced proposal reviewer)

40 Ways to Improve your SBIR Proposal!

As an experienced Phase I and Phase II SBIR reviewer, I have seen so many silly and unnecessary mistakes kill a proposal, that I started writing them down.

The NSF says that they award about 10-15% of proposals, see #8 below. However, in my experience, on a panel reviewing 10 proposals, there is usually 1 or 2 that are “fundable”. VERY rarely are there 3. All of the rest of them are unfundable, usually for the reasons below. Let me repeat that. the majority of proposals reviewed by the NSF (and other SBIR agencies) are UNFUNDABLE. They’re not even in the running. Usually because of the kinds of mistakes I have outlined in this free report! Just by avoiding these mistakes, you put yourself in that very top tier of fundability. And being in that tier makes it far more likely that your proposal will be funded!

It is hard for proposing teams to imagine that these simple mistakes can eliminate them from consideration, but the reviewers are very experienced. Typically review panels include current or former SBIR PI’s or award recipients, as well as traditional research grant recipients (university researchers) and occasionally entrepreneurs, depending upon the agency. They know what to look for, they know what makes a winning team and they often review many proposals over many years, so they know what the Program Director is looking for.

These are specific real mistakes from real proposals and I wrote these lessons down right away! First I got to 10, then 18, then 30, and I quit at 40. These are all “real world” mistakes that I have personally seen as a reviewer that have eliminated otherwise quality proposals from consideration! Let me repeat that, these simple mistakes ELIMINATED a proposal from even being considered for funding. Remember SBIR funding over all Phases can be worth over $1million in non-dilutive funding! Bummer for all those teams who lost out – don’t be one of them. Read the examples below and sign up below to get your copy of our free report detailing all 40!

1. Read the Solicitation.

6. Demonstrate your ability to take a product to market (either through revenue or through past successful commercialization efforts).

8. One Program Director put it this way – the NSF Phase I award rate is about 10%, but if you are 1) clear about the Innovation and 2) clear about the market, you are ahead of about 60% of the proposals!

10. Ask for the maximum amount that is permitted (to the penny!). If it is $150k max, ask for $150k, if it is $225k, then ask for $225k. Leftover money doesn’t help the Program Director.

24.Don’t assume that your Phase II reviewers have your Phase I proposal, they usually cannot see it and only a few of the reviewers may have been a reviewer on the your Phase I proposal. Pretend you are starting from scratch with every reviewer.

28. Don’t ever make a Program Director say “The PI is not coachable”! Can you say Death Knell?


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