Simplifying SBIR Grants for Startups
The Small Business Innovation Research (or SBIR) program deploys billions of dollars each year to for-profit businesses to fund R&D and stimulate innovation. Hosted by OpenGrants CEO, Sedale Turbovsky, this webinar will cover the nuances of securing SBIR funding and working with the government. Learn how to find the right grant program for your startup, evaluate opportunities, and develop relationships with government agencies.
In This 1-Hour Session, We Covered:
- How to prepare your company to receive SBIR funding
- How to find, win and manage grant funding
- Managing cash flow with government grant agreements
- Accessing your civil servants
- Understanding the basics of submitting competitive grant applications
- How to know if grants are a good fit for your startup
- How to prepare your company to receive a grant
About the Speaker
Sedale Turbovsky is the CEO and co-founder of OpenGrants, a venture-backed startup focused on building modern infrastructure for funding. He has been an entrepreneur since childhood. After honing his leadership skills as an outdoor guide in his younger years, he started his professional career as an independent consultant focused on delivering data products and digital strategies to enterprise clients in South America. He is experienced in independent grant writing and public/private partnerships at the highest level, having worked directly with OpenGrants’ current strategic partner, Momentum.
Read the Transcription
Please note, this transcription is automatically generated and may contain some spelling and contextual errors.
We will go ahead and dive right in. Our mission at OpenGrants is to activate trillions of dollars in grant funding for folks doing the most important work in the world. And SBIR plays a huge role in that. In 2019, there was $131 billion deployed by the US federal government through primarily at the SBIR program for small businesses, doing research, working on really innovative things, working on working on technology companies primarily.
And so this. The SBIR program in particular is really focused on that. It’s focused on stimulating techno technological innovation and using small businesses, which are frequently better positioned and statistically more likely to be successful, innovating, and creating really high impact innovation in particular.
So that’s one of the things that the SBIR program is focused on. If you want to be successful in these programs first, you need to be working. Innovative research that is advancing the state of the science and you need to be working on something that is not only. Research focus, but has some kind of future vision towards commercialization.
So the big places we actually see companies getting kicked out of SBIR in terms of just not getting approved for their grants is one, they’re not doing research that’s really innovative. And two they’ve, they don’t have any kind of vision for commercialization. And so they are they’re simply doing research and they’re deep in that research space and they’re not thinking about, putting a product out there.
So those are the two things that SBIR is really focused on is. The research component and the commercialization component, a SBIR is broken up into two phases. There’s phase one, which is a concept phase. It’s six to 12 months typically. And it’s really focused on even like paper studies, right?
So you’re doing real, like pure research at that point. And the phase two awards allow you to build on that and ideally develop a prototype or work towards a a sort of a demonstration or deployment of that technique.
So SBIR has several benefits, but the big one that I want to highlight today is really the opportunity that you have to build a really cool relationship with a government agency. And the reason for that is these relationships can frequently turn into real opportunities for a further commercialization.
So being able to secure very early on the opportunity to sell your product to the federal government is a really exciting proposition because all of a sudden you can have these really built in scaled up custom enterprise customers who are ready to pay lots of money for whatever you’re working on. And so that that can also really impact you in terms of being able to raise additional capital from investors.
It’s something that investors love to see. And you’re also getting that third-party validation of your technology. You’re saying, Hey look, some, a panel of experts at this agency, it could be the national science foundation. It could be the DOD. They looked at our technology and they said, Hey, this is worthwhile.
They wanted to fund it. And they gave us capital in order to do that. Of course the money always good. It’s wonderful to get non-dilutive capital for your startup, but really. What you’re going to be capitalizing on here. Cause you can get money anywhere. Really what you’re capitalizing on here is the opportunity to work within these systems.
And I was just throwing an example, the DOD SBIR program. One of the things that they’re going to ask you to do is go out and interview a ton of end-users. And so you’re actually going to get this opportunity to connect with customers and talk to them about really what do they need? What do they want to see in the product you’re building?
And while SBIR, the program itself does vary from place, from agency to agency. The idea of being able to plug into these larger ecosystems at this kind of enterprise level, and really iterate on your product is huge. Who’s eligible. What is the government defined as a small business?
Small business must be primarily American owned, more than 50% organized as a for-profit entity and have less than 500 employees. So that’s the basic definition of who’s eligible for to receive these FBI. And then the other time that comes up a lot that I just wanted to clarify for everyone before we dive into more of the programs themselves is you’re going to hear about a pie throughout these programs.
That’s a principal investigator. It’s going to be the person who. Primarily responsible as the principal investigator for the success of the project. Typically this person is going to have the, like a pretty significant background in order to carry the project forward. So whether they be a technical expert or they have a PhD these are the kinds of things that you’re going to want in that PI.
And so sometimes. The PI might not be the CEO of the company. It could be the lead researcher. It could be someone who just is intimately familiar with the product and has the educational background to back that up. It could be a good subject matter expert that you might have on team. But you’re going to need a PI regardless.
And so that person is going to be the one who’s really responsible for carrying the project. Another question, we get a lot because we have startups from all over the world who come through the SBIR come through and are interested in using the SBIR program. If they are primarily U S owned, but they want to work still with sub awardees or subcontractors who are overseas and maybe the country where they started their company.
It’s important to note that you can use those folks, but the R and D work that’s done through these programs needs to be done in the United States. There are also some really great SBIR kind of sister programs across the world where actual, the companies, the agencies here collaborate with those agencies overseas to support across borders. So those are opportunities that you can dive into. And as you like go through SBIR week and maybe do some deep dives, so different agencies have different sister sister programs in other places around the world. And so you can really explore that. I’m going to just pop over to, yeah.
So diving into you know how to be successful in SBIR. It’s really focused on and I’m gonna go ahead and stop sharing this for a moment and pull up really great resource. I just want to highlight that the government is really focused on engaging and supporting you throughout this process of the SPR program. So what I wanted to highlight is that your success here really is dependent on your ability to engage with the agencies and the groups that are funding these opportunities and build rapport, build relationships, and also understand what they are trying to fund and accomplish.
To that point. And in service of that, there’s this really great resource sbir.gov. And it’s a great jumping off point because it can help you find a variety of tools and opportunities across the United States. So the first one I want to bring up is that across the United States, there are a myriad of SBIR support organizations and they tend to be housed under kind of entrepreneurial support organizations, but you can access these folks. They will provide you at no cost consulting. They’ll provide you a variety of introductions. They’ll help you explore which programs might fit best for your company in particular.
And so the first step in being successful here, Just like going in blind and like putting together an application and getting it submitted. The first thing you want to do is build a relationship with whatever agency and whatever group is, that you’re interested in receiving funding from. And this is really important across the space in terms of grant funding.
But it’s really critical and SBIR where it’s highly competitive. So the average success rate in California, For SBIR programs, which is where we’re headquartered. It’s about 11% and the consultants and the other groups that I’ve worked with over the years that I’ve been in this space, they have more like a 98% success rate and applying for competitive funding and the way they accomplish that is by doing this step first, where they are building relationships, they’re gaining a deep understanding of the motivations behind the, these funding opportunities. They are engaging and providing value where possible to these agencies.
And they’re just really demonstrating that they are a group that is, the companies that are successful and the groups that are successful are demonstrating that they are a group that is. Really well organized. It’s legitimate that has a vested interest in working with the government that they’re going to be a good partner, right?
Because that’s what’s happening. When you set up this arrangement and you actually get funded, you are gaining a partner. And in this case, it’s an awesome partner. So the us government under one of the, one of the federal agencies that funds SBR, and what that means for you is that. You now have access, not only to their money, which is cool, but you have access to frequently, their PR department.
You have access to them as customers, potentially you have access to other government agencies that they might be able to introduce you to. And you have access to future funding from them, as well as you move through maybe like a phase one to a phase two award. So the first step you want to take is figuring out, like, how do we build these relationships?
And you can frequently do that through. Different like support organizations that are out there. They can see right here. It’s a big button, right? Support organization. This is for the support organizations themselves to, train and help you. But as an entrepreneur, you can pop over here and you can start to explore what SBIR is and how it might impact your company.
The other things that you want to do to get prepared, to receive an SBIR apart from building this relationship is to just get really organized. You are going to be contracting with the federal government of the United States. They can audit your books. They can’t, they expect you to maintain a high level of rigor in terms of how you’re doing your financial, like your financial work in terms of how you’re operating your company.
And so SBIR is a great opportunity as an entrepreneur and a small business to get really organized, to make sure you have. Good consultants and make sure you have good bookkeeping to make sure you have a really solid HR policies in place that you understand what, what prevailing wages and what, your consultants are getting paid.
And all these things need to be defined and outlined in a way that if you do get audited down the road, that you’re able to pass that and not have any sort of negative impacts from the audit. So that’s there’s the two parts to get really prepared to be successful in this space. One is.
Build the relationships create those opportunities for yourself, by connecting with the people who are funding you. And the other is more of a logistical exercise of, get your books in order. Make sure you have a good accountant in place. Make sure that you’re highly organized. Some programs are going to ask you like for things like HR policies and other things in that space.
So you need to have all that stuff organized and ready to roll. Once you’re there And ready to go. There’s a couple of ways you can go. No actually submitting an SPR grant. One is you can do it yourself. You can go download the guides. It’s all published online. And we’ll send out some of these links after, after the webinar, but you can download the guides.
You can follow the rules, you can submit it on your own, and you might have a pretty good chance, especially if you have spent a lot of time in academia. And you’re familiar with submitting research papers because that’s effectively what NSBI our proposal is. If you’re really familiar with, submitting a research proposal, then, go at it, have at it.
If you want to be super successful. And I’ll just throw this out there that most entrepreneurs and small business owners are not great at grant writing. And it’s not for any other reason than that’s not their job. There is a whole industry of people whose job it is to write grants and to be really good at it.
And they not only understand all the nuances of these individual programs, but they also understand the needs. Of the agencies themselves, they understand what kind of information needs to be in those grant proposals. So as you consider approaching this opportunity, if you’ve decided, Hey, we’re a small.
We’re definitely doing research. That’s innovative and interesting. We’ve reached out and we’ve talked to the agencies and run it by them. And they’ve said, Hey, yeah, that’s something that we’d be really interested in. And you got your company organized, like you got your ducks in a row. The next step is okay, do we write this ourselves?
Or do we go hire somebody? And in my experience at the very least. You do well to have a conversation with an expert, with a professional who knows not only what an SBIR program is, but ideally knows the program that you’re applying for. So to be clear, SBIR is run and administered underneath a variety of agencies, right?
There’s about 11 different ones. It could be, the DOD could be NSF could be NIH. The point being the DOD is different than the NIH is different than the NSF is different than the EPA. And so if you just have an SBIR writer, who’s oh yeah, I do DOD grants for SBIR. And you’re doing an EPA SBIR program.
Then you don’t want that person. You want someone who knows the EPA is SBIR program because they’re different. And you at least should have a talk with them is what I is, what I would suggest. So if you’re going to be successful, at least reach out to someone who’s an expert and have a discussion and say, Hey, this is what we’re doing.
What would it cost? What are the things we should look out for? And they’ll be happy to help you in the. Hey, you need to do X, Y, and Z. And as you’re talking to them, if you feel like they can deliver a significant amount of value, highly encourage you to hire them because you can be massively more successful, they can really streamline your process and they can give you a lot of the information that you might spend weeks looking up and trying to understand they can get all of that to you right away, because it’s just all in their heads because they’ve been doing this over and over again, and that’s all they do professionally.
At the very minimum. I suggest having that discussion. If you decide from there that you’re like, Hey, we’re going to write it ourselves, but maybe we’re going to hire you for a few hours of editing. That’s great. Or if you’d say, all right, let’s work collaboratively. We’re going to bring you on for a month or so.
And you can actually dive into this project and help us get it put together and submit it. Then that’s awesome as well. At the end of the day, As an entrepreneur, you’re always deciding do I spend time on this or do I hire someone? And this is one of those programs. There’s just so many resources that the government has in place to support you through this process.
And you can find no cost consultants through a variety of groups, including the the PTACs. So the SBA runs a teams across the United States called the procurement technical assistance. That’s what they’re called procurement and technical assistance. And they’re actually specifically tasked and they’re funded federally to provide, cost of consulting to help you submit SBIR as well as other, secure other government contracts.
But SBR is one of the things that falls under their purview. And so you can access them and they can help you get really far down the road and you don’t have to pay them a dime because they’re paid for by the federal government. The idea that I want to impart and telling you that story is that the government is well aware that these programs are a bit onerous and they’re hard to navigate.
So they’ve actually allocated money from the government to help you navigate the program that is hard to navigate. So just, take that for what it’s worth, but it’s a safe bet to say that, Hey, these programs aren’t super intuitive. Sometimes there’s things that just trip people up because.
Who wants to read the hundred and 380 page PDF of this is your SBIR proposal preparation guide. The thing’s a monster and we’ll send a link to that as well. That’s definitely the DIY route. If you want to read through that thing. And you can learn all the, all the rules and things that you need.
The other place that I wanted to just highlight here is there’s this resources tab. So you’ve got these kind of big buttons down here, but there’s this resources tab and there’s these tutorials. And before you go out and pay consultants or, pay a bunch of money to go through some sort of SBIR prep program of which there exists all of those things out in the market. I highly suggest you come here. So there’s all of these built out online tutorials that will help you understand all the basics. So all the things that I’ve been talking about, what’s the purpose are you eligible?
Let’s talk about the history, what are contracts versus grants? I’m down to one of the really interesting ones that I want to bring up for all of you is states service providers. So there’s all kinds of folks through state programs where they’ll actually not only help you, but they act some states actually have matching funding that they’ll deploy.
If you get an SBIR grant. So there’s a lot of economic development opportunity here. Of course. States as well as the federal government, they want to see you succeed in your in your endeavor. So you can look through here and there’s the procurement technical assistance centers that I was just talking about.
So I highly recommend as you think about going through the SBIR program, and if you feel that it’s a good fit, you don’t have to watch all of these, but I highly recommend browsing through the SBIR tutorials and getting a good feel for what goes into a proposal. What kind of things you can do to be more successful.
The registration requirements. That’s another thing. For those of you who don’t know, you need to be registered in SAM and have a DUNS number. And these are activities that are not like hard to do, but they’re annoying and take up time. So these are all things that, this really breaks down the whole program for you.
All of the information that you need to understand. Potentially the impacts of SBIR on your company, what kind of things you need to have in place. You can start to dive into data rights and IP and all those different things that you want to consider. Highly recommend, go check out the online tutorials.
These are great. Before you go, pay a consultancy money to like, try to do this for you, just realize that the federal government has put together a really robust research or really robust resource library for you. On top of. Actually having the as I mentioned earlier, the procurement technical assistance centers I would highly suggest that the point that you decide you’re going to go this route of SBIR, use them as a jumping off point before you talk to any consultants who are expensive, talk to the ones that are free and paid for by the federal government and just see what comes of that discussion.
We we at open grants, we have a variety of our consultants who participate in that space. And I just want to say, like the folks that are there that tend to be really. Versed in what they’re doing and they tend to be pretty savvy because they’ve gotten government contracts to help with SBIR.
This is a really cool area for you to really leverage like an experience, all the benefits of working with the government before you ever get your award, you can get a lot of free assistance and helping build out your proposal and navigate these programs. So I’m going to go ahead and open up.
A little bit of Q and a for a minute here. And then we can dive in more to some of the building relationships and go a little bit deeper on, how we approach building those relationships and providing input.
One of the first ones from Madeline Beck was what if you’ve done a substantial amount of market research and are seeking grant funds for the development part?
Yeah, that’s a great, that’s a great place to start, like I mentioned earlier and maybe to be very clear the phase one award is really early and to use I don’t know if everyone’s familiar, but there’s, basically the technology readiness levels that vary from agency to agency, but ideally, your phase one award is maybe you’ve done market research, but you’re, still need to do more research and development.
And in fact, early early funding sometimes depending on the agency, won’t actually allow you to do the market research. But that’s a great time. Like basically if your ideas, like pre-product. That’s it that’s a great fit for SBIR. Our basically that’s their sweet spot. In fact although they’ll take, if you’ve already done SBAR error, if you’ve already got a prototype in place, but you need to do more research that works as well.
Awesome. We have another one here from Marin Goldstein. How do we know if our goals are more aligned with what would be funded via an SDR or an STG?
A lot of that, so just to like touch on STTR, STTR really usually requires an involves working with a university or a research institution.
Basically, your goals might be aligned with it. It’s more about who you’re working with in your partners with STTR and less about sort of the goals for the outcomes, because they really are like the goals for your outcomes are going to be pretty similar on both sides of the equation.
But what we find is more it’s about like, all right is there some significant strategic advantage for you to work with this university or to work with this research team or this national lab? And it’s less about what are the outcomes that you’re driving for? Because the outcomes for both programs are ideally.
Commercialization of technology and the advancements of the state of the science of this tech.
Great. We had another one from Madeline Beck and she’s wondering, are there any specific things in a federal audit that differ from an audit or due diligence from any other investment in?
Certainly. Yeah. So the federal audit very specific. And I won’t go into the full thing. For two reasons, one, this is not my specialty. And I wouldn’t want to give you bad advice. And once again not my specialty, but I do know that you can really dive into like the accounting requirements and other things in this tutorial.
And then you can also talk with, the procurement technical assistance centers will probably give you the most help with this. But yeah I do know that it can be very different. And that it’s, sometimes they’re looking for things that aren’t things you’d find in a normal investment inquiry, just because there’s federal requirements about wages and other things that don’t always factor in if you’re just getting audited by, audit for investment in kind of an equity.
Great. We have another one here. If you plan to have a company with subsidiaries, would that allow you to tap into various SBIR programs if there’s a fit with the respective?
From a high-level standpoint, yes. If it’s a separate company, it qualifies as a small business, then you’d be good to go.
Nice. And Brandice is wondering, what does the fast track from phase one to phase two?
Fast track from phase one to phase two. I know that the DOD, for example, has that program. There’s other agencies that don’t actually have any kind of fast track. But basically, you’ll be able to see through if you could, if you log into the DOD SPR portal, you’ll be able to see opportunities where they will be either.
They’ll usually note it in the, up in the solicitation. That they’re open to fast track applications going to phase two. Effectively this can come from either. You’ve gotten funding for a phase, one at NSF, and you want to go to the DOD or you have done research in some other capacity, and it is sufficiently developed that you don’t actually need that.
Like initial kind of R and D you’re like at prototype or deployment phase, you need to do more research. So it’s a way for you to take research. You’ve done funded elsewhere and bring it into an SBIR program and it can be really useful.
Nice. We have another one from Ireland here. She’s had a, kind of a nightmare experience with a registration with SAM. Gotten multiple automated responses, asking for updates and review. But when she reaches out to seek, human contact she doesn’t receive a response, any tips and tricks around applying for a successful SAM creation.
So SAM is just a terrible system. And I think a lot of people can appreciate that. Unfortunately, the only tips and tricks I have is do it a bunch of times. So you can you can find consultants who can help you. The PTAC procurement technical assistance centers can help you. But unfortunately there’s not a there’s not a silver bullet there. It’s just a really bad. Pretty broken system. And there, it needs a lot of work and there’s not, it’s terrible. That’s all I can say.
Yeah. We had a couple of, a string of anonymous questions. Come in. A couple of ’em on compliance. Could you discuss 800 to 1 71 compliance and also CMMC compliance?
I am not deeply familiar with those, so I won’t try to unpack them, but I can certainly connect whoever that is to some experts who can who can dive into that. And when I saw, some others in there, Do failed SBIR applicants get a debrief?
You can request a debrief. Sometimes the agencies will decline to do that. You can reach out and ask and typically they’ll work with you on that. Opportunities to meet evaluators. One-on-one, there’s all kinds of different events all the time for this. Ideally plugged into like your local, once again, your local PTAC plug into your local SBA, maybe your SBDC centers and there’ll be opportunities to meet evaluators connect with them throughout the year.
Different agencies host different specific programs as well. So for example, the the military. So at forks, for example, and some of the other programs that DOD is rolled out around this space they have full on like events and conferences where you can go meet and connect with those people.
Another question I saw here was does the applicant need to maintain the same pie throughout the application life? What happens with pie leaves? You can switch pies. You just have to submit some information and deal with the paperwork. But yeah, that’s, it’s not a uncommon thing. And the nearest upcoming SBIR windows, but agency.
So one of the ones that’s really transforming, which is exciting is the NSF SBIR program. And then I can send out like what the rest of those agency windows are. But I don’t have that off the top of my head. Yeah.
And any it’s a good point to bring up any kind of follow up questions, or if we don’t get to your question or you want a more complete answer we’re also available to reach out.
We’ll have our contact as well at open grants. We have another question here from Lauren. The startup she works for is based in Finland but has a us subsidiary and all of her R and D is conducted here in California. We have an LLC in place in the U S as well. How can I find out if we qualify?
It’s a pretty, it’s a pretty straight forward. Equation here. So basically, Hey, are you are you owned 50% or more by a us entity? And do you have less than 500 employees? So that’s the, that’s the metrics to hit there. And. There’s different ways that you can work through this.
One of the things that we’ve seen a variety of Canadian companies do this year, this last year during the pandemic because a lot of money in Canada was diverted to COVID research. There were some companies that, missed out on the normal, their normal funding, and they came to take advantage of SBAR here in the United States.
And so they would partner as a sub award. With universities through the STTR program. And then they would run through a variety of kind of activities as a sub awardee and work out of the United States. So different opportunities to approach new research with really interesting folks.
Always love when we can get straightforward answers in this space.
We have another one from Durga seeking grant for building the prototype of our zero emissions vehicle. But don’t see an opportunity with a US a DOT SBIR program. Where else could we find funding?
This is a great question. One of the places you might look as the California Mobility Center they actually have a variety of programs as well as grant funding.
For. Specifically companies in your space, so highly recommend you reach out to them. They are a partner of ours, full disclosure, but I’m happy to make a referral or introduction. And you can reach out to them. Yeah.
Nice. We have one here from John. I’ve developed a healthy sweetener and I’m continuing research to improve it.
What government agencies should I contact about SBIR opportunities? USDA questionnaire.
Yeah. So a couple of the places that she might think about are the NIH depending on what kind of impact this has on people’s health. And if you’re doing research on nutrition that might be a place to do that.
USDA of course, could be interesting NSF as well, because they fund a really broad spectrum of things. Those are probably the ones that I would put at the top of your list to check out. So national institutes. Or the national science foundation or the U S department of agriculture.
Olives wondering how long does a phase one application take from start to finish during talk to that process?
So basically when you start depending on the agency, Submit a kind of project pitch. If it’s NSF, for example or you might just, submit a full application. We like to see folks take about two to three months to put together a good competitive application because you are going to be, you’re going to be writing out typically a commercialization plan.
Let me just add, this is general because there’s different requirements across the agencies, but you’re going to be writing out a commercialization plan. You’re going to be writing a research proposal. You’re going to be writing out your intellectual merit of the study that you’re doing.
So there’s going to be a variety of things that you’re going to need to work through in order to to get that application polished and submitted. The other thing that you’re going to want to do concurrently is take care of yourself. Your Sam registration and your DUNS number? Not in that order.
So it can, I’d say, typically you want to budget maybe three months to get it done if you’re doing other things and that if that’s all you have to do, literally, that’s the only task you have to accomplish. You’ll probably accomplish it in a month or a little less, if you could, if you just could focus on that and not work on anything else.
All right. Marin’s wondering my small business already has a product that’s commercially available, but we want to develop it in new ways and do more research. Are we okay?
The, like guideposts here is going to be, are you advancing the state of the science? First it’s going to be are you a small business.
It sounds you know that already. Make sure you’re a small business and then depending on Depending on that, if you are a small business you’re going to want to think through, does it really is it really this high impact, advancing the state of the science or is it really incremental innovation?
They’re looking for really, almost moonshot concepts are really popular. Whereas, if you’re just making something incrementally better, it’s not always. That’s something that you might want to talk with, like a procurement, technical assistance person about where they could really help you unpack that.
Nice. Andy is wondering, could the same project be granted by more than two agencies?
So double-dipping in research dollars is a federal offense. And you don’t want to have that happen. What you can do and what companies do from time to time, as they may get some aspect of the research funded by one agency, and then they maybe go to another agency and fund other aspects of the research.
But if you are literally talking about like the same exact research activity and you asked two agencies to do it, and they both fund you, you’re going to get caught and it’s not going to be a good time. So don’t do that. At least don’t take both their money. But yeah, you can certainly that’s actually what, like a direct to phase two opportunities are for is, maybe you’ve gotten funding from another agency and you’ve accomplished something.
And then you find that, a different agency is a bit more in terms of a better fit is a bit it’s a bit, it makes more sense. You might bring it over there.
Manny question for Manny here. Where do I start for funding? I have my business plan complete with in-depth research completed. The business has been registered with the state as an S-corp and an EIN is received. What do I do next for funding? So just a, where do I start or.
Yeah. The first thing you want to do is get really clear on what you want to get funded.
And that’s something that maybe I didn’t bring up earlier, but I’ll double down on now is that grant like this funding through SBAR is really for very specific research. So you don’t want to just come in and say, Hey, we’re going to build a better car. That’s not going to get funded. So you want to get really specific about what you’re trying to accomplish, and that’s really going to help you be successful.
So that’s the next thing. And then after that, it’s building the relationships with the agencies, making connections, leveraging as many free federal resources as possible to really improve your competitiveness
question from Sant theory, where do I find BAA opportunities?
So one of the places you can find them as in beta Sam which.
You have beta sam.gov, I believe. And then the other places you can find them on up in grants. And then you can find them on you can find them in different basically different agency websites. If you want to really go hunting.
One from Ashley here. My prior grant writing experience has been in academia with our series via NIH. Their, the indirect cost rate was established of your institution and applying as a small business with no university affiliation. How are these regions?
So you can actually you can actually have those rates set by like other government grant other government contracts that you have.
And so you can have those in place. But basically, yeah, so as a small business, typically, you don’t have anything. And so you just in your budget, you would just set, You would just either avoid indirect cost rates or do your best to like work with your accountant to calculate what those rates should be based on your business activity.
But it can be a little tricky. If you don’t have any like proper federal grants that establish those indirect cost rates, federal contracts, let’s say, so basically your school or your universe. Your institution had some sort of agreement with the federal government and said, these are our indirect cost rates and they probably negotiated it and then they agreed on it.
And that was set. You can go through that process as a small business, a lot of small businesses don’t for a variety of reasons. And so typically you’re going to just work with your consultant or your accountant to establish those on a good best practice. Basis and use that as your indirect cost rate.
And then if there’s pushback, you can modify that, but that’s usually how it’s approached.
What would be good agencies to reach out to for AI research specifically using AI for text analysis?
National science foundation is super interesting there. The DOD is also usually tangentially interested in things like that. But the national science foundation is the place to go for that stuff. If it’s general like AI for text analysis. And then you might think if it’s for a specific application in healthcare, then you might think, the national institutes of health, just generally from your question, I’d say the national science foundation is the best place.
Heather’s wondering is the 500 employee limit hardened fast, or if the proposed project relates to an ICS code where the fed small business limit is 750 employees, would a business be eligible for SBAR or is it superseded by the 500 employees?
That was a great question. I honestly do not know the answer to that and I will have to get back to you.
If you’re doing multiple advancement and research, can you have multiple varying proposals submitted to different ages?
Yes, as long as it’s different research, right? As I mentioned earlier, double dipping on research dollars not good also illegal.
But if you are doing different things and then of course you can have varying proposals submitted to different agencies and you can pursue those. And, hopefully you’ll get the funding you need and work with all those folks. As long as it’s different research is totally fine.
Please feel free to continue so many of your questions in the chat and sit out anything else, any sides you want to cover be great. Now I know that for me, if I could theme up some of these questions as I’m reading them, I think about, a lot of people are just wondering, like their eligibility, their competitiveness and like getting around where to go for funding. And if you had one kind of tip around, is the best idea to just to go talk somebody and go seek professional is the best idea to seek like a specific resource first, what would be your response? Cause I feel like that’s the theme of a lot of these.
Yeah, no, that’s great. The place to start really is first understanding, having a good understanding of what you’re doing, so you can communicate that to other people. And then the next step is to talk to people. It’s, it’s really unfortunate. The government kind of builds these opportunities to this kind of open competitive process, which it is in one sense, but in another.
It is not at all. And that is to say that if you just come in cold, chances are, you’re not going to be successful because of just the million nuances that are like inherent in any of these programs. And so the step after understanding what you want to get done is definitely reach out to, I’d say started the procurement technical assistance folks.
So reach out to your local PTAC and tell them, Hey, we want to do an SBIR. This is what we’re thinking about. Where do we go from here? And they’ll start to help you navigate because depending on your state, depending on where what neighborhood you’re in, depending on a variety of different factors, one, you might be eligible for matching funds from the state.
You might be eligible for a bunch of different programs depending on where you live and, depending on where you are, you might also be just a lot more competitive than you think you are because of some kind of economic development focus in terms of deploying capital. Be sure to I would say, be sure to talk to someone who knows what they’re doing.
That’s really my advice here. There’s billions of dollars in government money. That’s on the. And unfortunately, just because of the size of the government, because of the amount of bureaucracy involved, there’s just so many different factors and things and stuff to navigate as an entrepreneur. I just highly recommend that you talk to somebody who can help you get where you need to go quickly and efficiently instead of spinning your wheels, getting frustrated.
That’s the thing that at least for me, one of the things that I want to help folks not do is get frustrated and then not use these programs. And so my encouragement to you is reach out to people that can help you so that you can be confident in the space so you can know what you need to do, and then, take advantage of it because it’s awesome.
Nice. And a company will ask you just how they can contact us. I don’t know if you want to throw up that last slide here is as we answer a few more questions.
Yeah. Let me pull that up here. So capture that.
Yeah, reach out to us for sure. As we close up and answer some more questions, I just want to throw out a few things, open grants, not only contains a grant search engine where you can look for BAAs and SBIR programs and other things. But we also have a really great marketplace and there’s a ton of consultants there who are already organized that you can reach out to and you can meet.
And if you decide they’re a good fit, then maybe you can do business with them. But if not, you can at least have those conversations that I was mentioning. We’re also a partner with the narc Northern California PTACs. So if you happen to be in Northern California, we’re happy to be a conduit to that, those relationships.
If you are elsewhere we will send out an email post event with a directory of where you can find those PTAC resource.
Perfect. And we also along with that email, we’ll be sure to send out a recording of this webinar as well as some information for you. So as long as you’re registered for the event, you’ll get that. You’ll get that information. couple of other questions here, Andy’s wondering he already has a patent from USP, PTO on data security and cyberspace.
Which agency would you recommend to apply for SBIR?
The NSF, the national science foundation is always interested of course. And then the DOD is really interested in that space for obvious reasons. So you might try either of those programs, which are awesome. The DOD has some really special, the DOD has a full like portal where you can go in and look through their BAS. So that’s one of the agencies that does a really good job of kind of surfacing that upfront. They tend to have like at least one cybersecurity focus program every quarter, so I would check them out.
Nice. And we have another question from Shiva here.
How much does outside help typically cost? If she hires somebody through us and maybe clarify how that works through open grants.
Yeah, that’s a great question. So I’ll just generally address that first. There’s a variety of different kind of approaches in the industry. A lot of consultants that you’re going to run into in this space charge hourly.
So they’ll say, Hey, we’re between, and it’s usually between somewhere between 102 hundred $50 an hour. And they provide a whole ton of value in those timeframes. There’s a lot of consultants to charge hourly for SBIR because. So programmatic and nuanced you’ll find specialists who will do a specific SBIR program for you and a package deal.
So they’ll do, they’ll say, Hey, for every NSF SBIR proposal, you want us to write it’s $8,000 and that’s like a flat rate. And so you’ll find some shops that do that as well. On the open grants platform itself, because we’re a marketplace, basically our writers specify their their hourly rate. And then when they get paid, we take 20%.
So that’s how our marketplace works. But it’s pretty basic. Every two weeks, they’ll submit hours, you will approve them. And then, money is transacted. But outside help in general. One of the things you want to look for when you’re hiring these folks is that they do work and get paid up front.
So I highly encourage you to stay far away from anyone who says that they’re going to work for a percentage of the grant afterwards. Specifically the SBAR it’s also. But it’s just not a good practice. People who are doing work in that format, they tend to just be writing a bunch of stuff. And it’s like they throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks approach, which isn’t good for you because they’re just writing as much as they can as quickly as possible.
They’re not spending a lot of time doing deep strategic work. And generally you’re just not going to be as successful in that format. So if you want to, as a founder or a small business, if you want to give them. That’s a whole different thing. There’s different ways you can compensate these folks for sure.
But a percentage of the grant is just not a good one
in addition to looking at the different rates and how people go about their work, any tips on knowing like who’s a good fit for you. Is there a good way to check, level of experience or look at past projects or how do people typically find a grant writer that makes sense for them?
Yeah. So the cool thing that we’ve done up grants, and we’ve actually organized them around their subject matter expertise and their experience with certain technologies. So if you will need an SBAR, an NSF SPR expert who knows. I know cyber security. You can find that in our marketplace using the filters and search.
But yeah, generally that’s what you want to do, is you want to find someone who understands your technology and they understand the agency that you’re thinking of applying to, and they understand the SBAR process. So if you can find that that grouping of, good data points at that point, you just need to know if you want to work with them.
Which is more of a personal decision and can come down to more like personalities and styles, but. Ideally this person has a lot of experience. You don’t have to spend a lot of time instructing them. The SBI program is by its nature, very technical. So you need someone, you can’t be spending hours of your day, just explaining your technology to them.
They need to be able to pick it up and understand it pretty quickly. If not, coming into the opportunity with a full understanding of your tech always you as the entrepreneur and the small business are going to have a better grasp of course, on what you’re doing, because it’s innovative and new, but they need to have the basic principles of whatever space you’re working in down really well.
And so those are the things you want to look for. And then the other stuff you want to look for, of course, it’s just their pricing model and how they approach, how they approach you as a company, as makes sense. I know another question I get a lot here is just like any cool success stories that you have. I know it’s always fun to just get inspired as people go down this funding journey and know that these programs as much as there can be all these details, like really what really worked for folks in our, it can be great, great resource.
Yeah. There’s some great success stories. I think some of the really cool ones are, I’m trying to think of it like a few relevant ones that are fun to tell stories about, but, I think overall the success story here is that the government is investing a hundred, more than, $131 billion into small businesses and small businesses really do make. The backbone of the American economy.
They create jobs at a higher rate. They’re literally the lifeblood of what drives our economy forward. And so to the extent that the government is successful in deploying this capital it really does this is a rising tide that supports a large group of people. And one of the, some of the things that we’re really excited about and we’re excited to see start happen is just to see more people accessing this opportunity to see more diversity.
To see more kind of approaches to equity and inclusion in this space. There’s a lot of programs out there, federal programs to help you actually. These SPR opportunities and get get involved. And they’re looking to do awards to veterans and to women owned businesses and to, to groups that have not traditionally been well-represented in these processes.
And so it’s something that is now like with this new administration, especially it’s something that’s been articles. Actually verbally, finally, and written down that they want these approaches. So I’d say, the success story that I’ll highlight and I know this isn’t actually answering the specific question you had, but it was a success story that I’d highlight is that, that, right now we have, there’s more progressive and like economic development focused policies in place than we’ve had in a long time.
And they’re really trying to get this program right. And to make it a success and SBI our way is going to be great. We’re super excited to kick it off this way. And excited to send you more info on, the other events that are happening. But, we really do want to say. This is an opportunity for you to take your business to the next level, to build relationships with customers who can really help you not only hire and develop products, but also that can pay you, which is great.
Awesome. I know we just have a couple minutes left. Any other questions, people have feel free to drop them in the chat. But overall, yeah, contact is up here. Reach out with any questions. As long as you’re registered for this event, you will hear from us shortly with some more information and yeah, head over to our site, it’s free to make an account and we can help you out more there as well.
Definitely reach out. As Kate mentioned, let us know if there’s ways that we can be of service. And we will be holding some. Events. So if you subscribe and want to hear more about other webinars and opportunities like this we’ll continue to be hosting these every month. Yeah.
Thank you all again. And I’ll look forward to hearing from you feel free to hunt me down on LinkedIn or Twitter. I’m happy to connect.