|To My SBIR Clients and Friends,|
Our special Newsletter topic for September is:
Letters of Support
When you submit an SBIR proposal to any of the Agencies for funding, letters of support can significantly enhance your position and make your application more attractive to the reviewers. Basically they serve to validate your significance and reduce the risk.
are four variations of letters of support:
from consultants committing to provide advisory services (hours of effort at an
agreed upon rate) for your project
from collaborators committing to provide needed resources (e.g., equipment,
laboratory facilities, testing, computer time, etc.) for your project, either
for a specified cost or pro-bono.
from endorsers of the technology development.
from a future customer, expressing eagerness for you to develop a product or
capability that they will be pleased to acquire.
from consultants or collaborators support your budget, and may actually be
required by the funding agency. Letters
from endorsers provide outside validation of the importance of your work. Letters
from future customers support your commercialization plan (if that's a
component of the proposal).
recommended that you offer to draft a letter of support for each of your consultants
and collaborators to ensure that all deadlines are met. Letters from endorsers or future customers
tend to be quite unique, and it might not be possible to draft a letter for
them (don't appear to be "putting words in their mouth"). Do convey the need to have them support your contention
that there will be a market for your developing product.
providing a draft letter of support, you ensure two things:
- That the letter of support will
contain all of the information you need
- That you will get the letter back
from your supporter in a timely fashion (assuming you give them enough
lead time! We suggest 2-3 weeks)
your own letters of support also serves another important purpose. It can give
both parties an early warning of unrealistic expectations. It is a vehicle for
negotiating exactly what services, equipment, or expertise will be provided to
support your work.
goals of a letter of support from a future customer are to:
your business model that there will be a market for what's being developed
of the "market pull" for the evolving product
enthusiasm for the work
credibility to your proposal
goals of a letter of support for a consultant or collaborator are to:
- Specify what the
consultant/collaborator will contribute to the research
- Convince the reviewer that the
consultant/collaborator will fulfill the request
- Convey enthusiasm for the work
- Lend credibility to your proposal
long as your letter demonstrates specifically what your collaborator or
consultant will be contributing to the project, there is no right or wrong way
to draft a strong letter of support.
NOTE: I do work with my clients with helping draft these letters. They are very important and can make the difference in a reviewer's conclusions on the viability of a proposed project.NSF OPENS FALL SBIR SOLICITATION
On Monday, the NSF announced their Fall SBIR Solicitation via their List-Serv email mechanism. The document number is NSF10607.
Among all of the agencies, the NSF is quite unique in that the scope and breadth of their SBIR project interests is the widest. They also have a very strong focus on the commercialization potential of your technology. In fact, the NSF SBIR Program likes to think of itself as the Federal Government's "venture capital" arm! So be prepared to express your commercialization strategy in more detail than for any other agency!
They also are unique in that they strongly suggest you prepare a 2-3 page Executive Summary of your project and submit it to the appropriate Program Officer for pre-proposal screening. The response you get (I like to characterize it as a green/yellow/red flag) will determine whether you should proceed with a full proposal submission. (And, yes, I do help my clients prepare these.)
Here is the link to the NSF's SBIR Solicitation with full proposal preparation requirements:
There are four Priority Areas:
Links to their descriptions are on Page 4 of the solicitation. Proposal deadline is December 3rd.
- Biotechnology and
Chemical Technologies (BC)
- Information and
Communication Technologies (IC)
Advanced Materials, and Manufacturing (NM)
are several other Agencies with currently open SBIR and STTR solicitations.
Your best source for information and schedules is Rick Shindell's SBIR Gateway. A shortcut URL is SBIRgateway.com.
And, don't forget about the DOD sponsored Beyond Phase II Conference in San Antonio in September, and the Fall 2010 SBIR National Conference in Oklahoma City in November. Hopefully I'll see you there!