FEBRUARY 2010 SBIR/STTR UPDATE
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Greetings. You are receiving this Update because you have either attended an SBIR/STTR
training program sponsored by the NJ Commission on Science & Technology and coordinated by
NJSBDC, or are thought to have a possible interest in these programs. In addition to SBIR/STTR
information, it includes other information that companies interested in SBIR are also likely to be
NJTC New Jersey Capital Conference
Friday, 2/5/2010, 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., Westin Princeton
This program provides a good introduction to and an overview of financing a science and
technology based business. www.njtc.org
NJTC Venture Conference, Friday, March 26, Somerset
The annual Venture Conference is a great opportunity for companies seeking equity financing
to showcase themselves to the regional investor and entrepreneur community. It is typically
one of the few times in an entrepreneur’s life when the investors come to them. Entrepreneurs
not presently seeking investors, but anticipating doing so within the next year, can benefit from
networking and becoming familiar with the “landscape.” www.njtc.org
RECENT SOLICITATION RELEASES
-Department of Education- National Inst. on Disability and Rehabilitation Research 2010 SBIR
-Department of Defense 2010.A STTR
See due dates and links below.
Retooling to NIH’s New 2010 SBIR/STTR Proposal Structure
As many of you know and some of you have now seen, NIH has significantly revised the
structure and content requirements for their grant proposal Research Plans including SBIR and
STTR Research Plans. As I begin my own mental retooling, I thought it might be helpful to some
of you for me to share some suggestions to consider based upon how I am responding to the
new requirements in the proposals I assist with. See article at end of Update.
SBIR Reauthorization Update
A sixth continuing resolution has been passed by Congress extending the program from
February 1 - April 30. I was guardedly optimistic that the legislation might be reauthorized by
the end of the 3 month continuing resolution 5. However, SBIR was quickly overshadowed by
the urgency of healthcare reform and the economy. I remain guardedly optimistic that both
SBIR and STTR will be reauthorized by the end of 2010.
Department of Defense STTR 2010.A
The Department of Defense has released its first of 2 scheduled 2010 STTR solicitations. This
solicitation consists 45 topics from the Navy and 30 from the Army. It is in pre-lease through
February 22. During this pre-release period, entrepreneurs can contact the designated
“technical points of contact” for each topic and ask questions. These conversations can prove
very useful to entrepreneurs in assessing the fit between the topic and their technology and
core technical competencies. However, be forewarned that some designated contact persons
are much more helpful than others. Proposals are due on March 24. Proposals must be
received by 6 a.m. Eastern Standard time.
SBIR Gateway Offers DoD STTR Matchmaking Database
The SBIR Gateway/Zyn.com one-stop SBIR/STTR resource web site will again offer a partnering
mechanism for small businesses, universities and prime contractors to find potential partners
on a topic by topic basis for the DoD STTR solicitation. STTR requires that 30-60% of a contract
be spent by the small business to support a collaboration with a non-profit or academic
research organization. Small businesses and universities that identify a well fitting topic are
sometimes prevented from pursuing STTR because of the lack of the required collaborative
Last year there were more than 300 topic registrations with many universities participating with
small businesses. Universities and other qualifying non-profit research organizations can
review the DoD's STTR topics and their corresponding abstract. They can then check the
topic(s) of interest to their organization and complete the contact information.
Small businesses in search of a research partner will be able to query topics of interest and see
what research organizations may be interested in partnering on those topics. The database is
expected to be launched this week on the zyn.com/sbir web site.
Proposal Preparation Assistance
In addition to SBIR/STTR training, NJCST and NJSBDC offer cost shared proposal preparation
assistance services. Up to 12 hours of assistance is available to SBIR/STTR training seminar
attendees a rate of $20 per hour with the balance of the cost covered by NJCST and NJSBDC.
Services consist of written critiques of draft proposals and assistance in strengthening them.
The service is available on a first come first served basis and availability may become limited as
submission deadlines approach. Coaching and guidance in drafting proposals continues to be
available at no cost.
Technology Commercialization Assistance
In addition to providing SBIR/STTR proposal preparation assistance, the NJSBDC Technology
Commercialization Program serves NJ entrepreneurs as a free one-stop resource for financing
science and technology based businesses and commercializing new technologies. Funding
strategies including state financing programs, angel investments and venture capital are
identified to fit with a company’s technology, goals and stage of development. The Center then
helps companies identify their best prospects and will assist them in preparing and
strengthening the required funding proposal, business plan or investor presentation. Reviews
and critiques of Edison Innovation Fund and other Commission on Science & Technology
programs proposals are available.
Technology Commercialization Assistance services are limited to NJ based small businesses
located outside the NJ Business Incubation Network. Assistance can be requested at
www.njsbdc.com/scitech or by sending an E-message to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Randy G. Harmon,
Technology Commercialization Consultant,
NJSBDC/Rutgers Business School;
SBIR/STTR Training Coordinator for NJCST;
Co-founder, Foundations Business Development Group, LLC
I. Solicitation Schedule
II. Training Schedule
III. State Funding Opportunities
IV. Financing, Networking and Related Events and Information
V. Retooling to NIH’s New 2010 SBIR/STTR Proposal Structure
I. SOLICITATION SCHEDULE
The following agencies presently have open solicitations:
Department of Education-
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research 2010 SBIR
Proposals due 3/15, http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sbir/applicant.html
Department of Defense 2010.A STTR
Proposals due 3/24, http://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp/sbir/solicitations/sttr10A/index.htm
Public Health Service/NIH, CDC, FDA, ACF SBIR/STTR 2010
Proposals due 4/5, 8/5, 12/5/2010.
There are 2 parts to this solicitation. The program descriptions and research topics can be
found at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/sbirsttr1/2010-2_SBIR-STTR-topics.doc
The proposal writing instructions can be downloaded at:
Special NIH SBIR/STTR Initiatives (PAs & RFAs)
In addition to the main PHS/NIH SBIR/STTR grant solicitation and the fall contract solicitation,
NIH issues numerous small contract solicitations throughout the year focused on specific health
areas. They are listed at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/sbir_announcements.htm.
The fall 2009 New Jersey SBIR/STTR training season ended in November. It is anticipated that
SBIR/STTR training will resume in the spring.
2010 SBIR National Conference,
April 21-23, 2010, Hartford, CT
The National Conference is an excellent training and networking opportunity for entrepreneurs
actively pursuing the SBIR and STTR programs. It isn't often that the conference comes so close
to New Jersey.
-All 11 SBIR Agencies will provide strategic overviews
-Schedule private meetings with large companies and agencies
-Showcase your technology at the evening poster event
-Expansive Exhibit Hall
-Meet potential strategic partners while "Speed Dating"
-Listen to success stories engaging business, government and universities
-Learn all the new SBIR developments and programs
-Attend workshops and presentations
III. State Funding Opportunities
New Jersey Commission on Science & Technology
Incubator Seed Fund
The Incubator Seed Fund was developed specifically for technology-based incubator clients
resident in the Commission on Science and Technology supported incubator network. The
Commission’s Incubator Seed Fund is designed to accelerate the business development process
and produce significant value for the companies receiving the awards.
The Seed Fund will provide, on a competitive basis, funds to assist emerging businesses in
achieving a critical milestone in their commercialization path. The direct financial support from
the Commission will compliment the mentoring and business support provided by incubator
managers as they assist these emerging companies in commercializing their technologies.
Applications are due February 25, 2010 – 3:00 PM. Awards are expected to be announced in
IV. FINANCING, NETWORKING AND RELATED EVENTS AND INFORMATION
ENTREPRENEUR NETWORKING MEETINGS:
NJ Entrepreneurial Network
Corporate & Non-Profit Funding Sources
Wednesday, April 7, 2010, Rider University** New location
NJ Entrepreneurs Forum
Thursday, February 11, 4-6 p.m., NJEDA Commercialization Center, North Brunswick,
Venture Association of NJ
David Drahms, Vice President – Osage Partners
Raising the Series A Round
Tuesday, February 16
V. Retooling to NIH’s New SBIR/STTR Proposal Structure
As many of you know and some of you have seen, NIH has significantly revised the structure
and content requirements for their grant proposal Research Plans including SBIR and STTR
Research Plans. The good news is that the length of the Research Plan has been cut in about
half with Phase I proposals reduced to 7 pages and Phase II proposals reduced to 13 pages. The
bad news is that the content requirements and emphases are different, which pose somewhat
of a learning curve for past applicants and will take some getting used to. As I begin my own
mental retooling, I thought it might be helpful to some of you for me to share some suggestions
to consider based upon how I am responding to the new requirements in the proposals I assist
NIH has aligned the structure and content of the Research Plan to better reflect their proposal
evaluation criteria. Many of the questions from their review criteria have simply been
reworded as instructions in the Research Plan. The most significant and visible change is that
three sections of the previous Research Plan (Background and Significance, Preliminary
Studies/Progress Report, and Research Design and Methods) have been consolidated into a
single new section within the Research Plan entitled Research Strategy.
The new Research Strategy section is sub-divided into three parts: Significance, Innovation, and
Approach and limited to a total of 6 pages. Essentially NIH is much more interested in the
innovativeness of your proposal including the significance and impact of the innovation. They
are no longer interested in the detail of your research design and methods.
Starting with the Specific Aims, which term NIH uses interchangeably with objectives, there is
little noticeable change. What is new is that they ask you to address the impact that your
results are expected to have on the research field(s) involved. In addition, NIH’s past
recommendation of 1 page for the Specific Aims is now a limit.
As in the past, your Aims are the approximately 2-5 key tasks or key groups of tasks that once
successfully completed and given a budget of typically $100,000-200,000 will best demonstrate
the feasibility of your envisioned commercial product to reviewers. Remember to identify one
or more technical questions that you will have to answer in order to complete each objective.
Surprisingly despite the clarity with which they are requested the failure to specify these
questions is one of the most common weaknesses among proposals across all agencies.
Remember to also identify one or more milestones for each aim. A milestone is an objective
measure, or the evidence that will prove that you have successfully completed the Aim.
I have consistently advised entrepreneurs to get started on their proposals by identifying their
Specific Aims. If you don’t propose to do the right things that reviewers agree are the most
important to accomplish in Phase I in order to demonstrate feasibility, your proposal is unlikely
to get funded. While that hasn’t changed, I am now suggesting to the early birds who have
already begun writing their proposal for April 5 that the second thing they do is to discuss the
Innovation. Innovation is part b. of the new Research Strategy section.
I suggest that the part b. Innovation component of the Research Strategy be at least 1 page in
length and a maximum of 2 pages. I also recommend at least 1 page and up to a maximum of 2
for part a. Significance. In addition to the importance of the problem you are addressing, you
are also asked in part a. to discuss the anticipated impact of your project.
The new part c. Approach component of the Research Strategy is essentially a summary of the
former Research Design and Methods (RD&M) section. As I did for the old RD&M section, I
recommend that you write your Approach to your Specific Aims cutting and pasting each one
into this part. Although there is no room to discuss each of your individual tasks or subtasks, I
recommend that you identify each of them according to their corresponding Aim in your
I suggest approximately 3 pages for discussion of your Approach. If you have preliminary data,
you can probably take up to 4 pages. However, I would be reluctant to reduce the total
combined space allocation for part a. Significance and part b. Innovation below 2 pages.
In the past, I have typically recommended that entrepreneurs include a subsection at the end of
their research design and methods discussion entitled Determination of Feasibility. I asked
them to discuss how they will determine that they have successfully demonstrated feasibility
upon conclusion of the project. This could be as simple as a statement that “We will conclude
that we have successfully demonstrated the feasibility of… (state the technology or envisioned
commercial product) upon achieving the milestones for each of our objectives, as follows:
(followed by a restatement of the milestones, as requested in the Specific Aims section).” This
is now specifically requested in part c. Approach.
I welcome your questions, comments and correction. My intent is simply to develop some
evolving guidelines to facilitate our collective transition to NIH’s new requirements and
enhance our prospects for success.