You need a funding pipeline or, if you prefer, a funding strategy. You need to think about the right type of funding for each stage of your business. For example, companies which are developing deep technology, that is technology that is both high risk and high reward (and usually expensive to develop) should be considering the SBIR / STTR programs, a collection of programs run by each of the federal funding agencies with certain size budgets.
Although this is called a single program, but it is really a collection of many programs. See this post for a good overview of the SBIR and STTR program. Remember, every agency with more than $100 million in extramural funding runs their own SBIR program, conducting it with their own rules and requirements. Agencies with more than $1 billion in research funding also conduct the STTR program which requires an outside research partner. SBIR funding is a great technology funding mechanism, but remember that it is only one part of your funding pipeline. Even an SBIR awardee will need follow up capital!
But even withing the SBIR and STTR programs, your company needs a pipeline of funding, an SBIR funding pipeline, preferably from different agencies, but certainly different projects, where that is possible. When you paint the picture for your SBIR proposal, paint the picture big, but specify the work you are going to, appropriately scaled for the size and phase of the award.
Your goal should be to submit multiple proposals, over time, to cover different parts of the long term vision for your solution.
You should try and map out this SBIR/STTR roadmap early, and where possible, have awards abut rather than overlap by very much time. I don’t recommend you submit the same proposal to multiple agencies (even if you declare it). If you do and BOTH are recommended for funding, the program directors will decide between them, which agency wants to fund your award! This may be the lower amount, for example.
Instead, submit proposals for different parts of the work to different agencies.
Also, remember that NSF will only accept one proposal per company at a time, and they believe that by the time your company has 1 Phase II award (and now verry occasionally 2 Phase II awards) from the NSF, you should be on your way.
If you haven’t gone through our SBIR course, Develop a Winning SBIR Strategy – Insights From The Review Process, I invite you to do so. Remember that my perspective as a reviewer of many, many proposals gives you an advantage as you prepare your Phase I and/or your Phase II proposal.
If you want more in depth help, either a proposal review or help developing your proposal, you can apply for a spot in our one-on-one VentureWrench SBIR Coaching after you’ve gone through the course.
Email us at venturewrenchcommunity [at] gmail.com with questions.
And if you need help with any part of your SBIR process – proposal (Phase I or II), TABA, proposal management, or contract finalization, just email us at venturewrenchcommunity [at] gmail.com!
Don’t forget, if you need more help, check out our online course, Develop a Winning SBIR Strategy, and don’t forget your free guide below!