What’s up at the NSF! New Solicitation Missing? Coming Soon? Latest Update from NSF – Ben Schrag Webinar 4/18/24

Wow!  If you haven’t looked latest at the NSF SBIR/STTR Seedfund site, you haven’t seen the craziness in the NSF solicitations.

So, what’s up?

Today, Ben Schrag shared a lot of good stuff on a webinar that will help you sort out what’s what. I’ve embedded the video below and below the video highlighted some important questions and their time slot so you can jump to a specific discussion.  I’ve given short summaries, but I encourage you to listen to all of Ben’s comments as they are very helpful! And this gem at the very end of Ben’s comments…

We’re funding pretty early stage companies, so Don’t Wait too Long!  Don’t feel like you have everything perfect because there’s a chance that in the quest to make everything perfect you’ll go past our window of what we’re looking for.

Video the NSF’s Ben Schrag (with QA highlights from the VentureWrench team). The first half of the video is a very good overview of what’s unique about the NSF’s SBIR program including some goodies about being funded more than once by the NSF….

Highlights of selected QA items

(times are approximate)

Q – Minute 18:30 –  New 2024 Phase and Phase II Deadlines??

A – Phase I re-opened until May 15, 2024. New Phase I and Phase II are tentatively expected at that time. Phase II applicants will have a grace period to submit

Q – 20:30 What does “structured and staffed for Commercialization” mean in small companies?

A – Are Founders Serious?  Committed? Can you Show that?

A – Discussion of Advisors and Directors, Champions and Big Friends who can help lend credibility that the team is ready to take this technology all the way

Q 25:00 – Does NSF accept Direct to Phase II

A – No (and Why)

Q – 26:00 Does the Size of the Team Play a Role in Acceptance?

A – NSF wants to have an impact and move the needle! NSF can have more impact on smaller or earlier teams

28:00 – TABA Question

A – It’s complicated!  Phase II funds are part of the $1 million total and NSF allows teams to keep it as a budget line item with providers to be selected during the Phase II.
Phase I – NSF spends the TABA money for you.

Q – 30:00 – Can a company win an NSF SBIR if they’ve received Venture Capital

A – Again, it’s complicated!  But amount matters, how it impacts your level of technical risk.  (From Nicole – Remember the ownership clauses! )

Q – 32:00 – Rarely second Phase I at NSF, but what about Phase I or Phase II from other agencies?

A – Ben has a lot of excellent advice here – but it comes down to Focus!!

Q – 35:00 – What percentage of Phase I proposals are being awarded

A – 10-15% (although NSF website also suggests 10-20% and this does seem to vary)

Q – What percentage of PITCHES are being approved (invited)

A  – About Half

IMPORTANT – see Ben’s advice and caution’s about using AI to write your proposal

The last part of the Q&A is a good discussion of the pitch process, in person meetings with NSF program directors (have to be fair!) and other nuances of NSF and I highly recommend you listen to the entire thing.

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 with questions.

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!

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