Jeff Gronberg SBIR Presentation

Effective SBIR/STTR Proposal Responses
How to Beat the Odds
February 20, 2013
Why worry about winning SBIR?
 Typical win rate for a Phase I is 10%
 Good SBIR companies can perform at 30-70%
 SBIR/STTR provides interesting work, new customer
contacts and nice revenue
 Phase III provides tremendous opportunities for Sole
Source contracts
 SBIR/STTR is getting more competitive, don’t waste
precious resources by submitting a poor proposal
Huntsville/North Alabama should be more
competitive with California, Boston, New York,
Texas and other SBIR centers of excellence
creative technologies, innovative solutions
How to Improve Your Odds
 Best Approach: Help to create a topic!
 Use SBIR as a path to solve a customer problem
 Next Best: Propose on topics where you know the TPOC
 Past or current relationships are a huge differentiator
 Must: Talk to the TPOC/Alternate
 Understand the problem they are trying to solve
 Understand the program they are targeting the technology for
 Try to determine likely commercialization or proposal partners
 Ask how many awards they are likely to make
 Determine what other approaches they have tried
 Provide an overview of your approach and see if they “bite”
Familiarization is key to a successful proposal, technology
itself rarely wins the day.
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So You’ve Decided to Write
 Solve their problem (not a problem, or your problem)
 Never educate them on their problem, or tell them they
are off-base
Be innovative but also practical
The proposal is a selling document, not a scientific
Demonstrate a clear understanding of the problem
Provide a clear, concise and compelling central
idea/concept as your approach to solving the problem
Show benefits and demonstrate ability (proof)
Guide the reviewer to a clear, believable solution
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Technical Proposal Requirements
 All Topics below must be covered in this order
 Identification and Significance of the Problem or Opportunity
 Phase I Technical Objectives
 Phase I Work Plan
• With Task Schedule (Separate Schedules for Base and Option, if applicable)
 Related Work
 Relationship with Future Research or Research and Development
 Commercialization Strategy
 Key Personnel
 Facilities/Equipment
 Subcontracts/Consultants
 Prior/Current, or Pending Support of Similar Proposals or Awards
 Additionally, deciBel Research requires the following:
• Deliverables
Include Final Report as required in solicitation
– Monthly progress reports
– Other deliverables as determined by solution
creative technologies, innovative solutions
Well Don’t Just Start Writing
 Create an outline or storyboard for your concept
 Outline serves as your guide for telling the reviewer your story
 Create graphics/figures/tables (at least conceptually) before
Have a figure or table on every page (at least every other)
Use bulleted lists and call out boxes liberally
Use bold or other consistent formatting to draw attention to
key words/statements
Create a schedule for your work as part of the outline
Clearly include any subcontractor efforts and ensure “flow”
Writing without a plan is a recipe for failure
creative technologies, innovative solutions
Evaluation Criteria
 Soundness, technical merit, and innovation of the
proposed approach and its incremental progress toward
topic or subtopic solution
 The qualifications of the proposed principal/key
investigators, supporting staff and consultants;
Qualifications include not only the ability to perform the
research and development, but also the ability to
commercialize the results
 Potential for commercial (Government or private sector)
application and the benefits expected to accrue from this
Pay attention to how your proposal will be evaluated
creative technologies, innovative solutions
 Team to increase your chance of winning
 Technical capability
 Relationship
 Commercialization Partner
 Determine potential team members early
 Get NDA and SOW done ASAP
 Look at possibility of getting a letter of support vs. subcontract
in Phase I, especially for large companies
 Understand restrictions/requirements on work share
 Be clear on expectations
 If including subs, most effort should be done before writing
Teaming should increase your chance of winning.
creative technologies, innovative solutions
Requirements for Cost Proposal
 Proposals are auditable by DCAA prior to award
 Most awards will be Firm Fixed Price
 Writer needs to provide:
 Personnel required for effort
 Number of hours (or LOE, % work) by person
 Any special material or equipment costs with quotes as back up
 Travel requirements (number of trips, number of people, number of
days, location)
 Subcontract POC (technical & contracts)
 Subcontract Statement of Work (description, schedule, deliverables)
 Dollar ceiling for subcontractor (if less than previous table)
Must plan well, ODC and subs are critical drivers
creative technologies, innovative solutions
Key Personnel
 Key Personnel are critical to success
 Best to have a PhD as the PI
 If not, they better have great credentials
 Tailor the resume/CV to the topic!
 Highlight published works (books, papers,
presentations, etc.) and similar research
Demonstrate that the key personnel are experienced and capable
creative technologies, innovative solutions
 Showing clear path is critical
 Use subs or letters of support to demonstrate path
 Commercialization does not mean actual “commercial”
 DoD or other Government/Civil agency is valid
 If possible, directly target prime integrator for the
program that created the requirement
 “Productization” of the idea is important
 Pay attention to “ilities”
 Best to indicate multiple possibilities/markets
Commercialization can be difficult to write, but is a major
evaluation criteria
creative technologies, innovative solutions
 SBIR/STTR is a great program that we as a community
need to be more successfully exploiting
Encourage you to write a good proposal to an
appropriate topic
Involve help early and often
Encourage customers to use SBIR/STTR to solve
Pay attention to the problem and don’t forget about key
personnel and commercialization
SBIR/STTR provides a perfect mechanism to do R&D and generate $
creative technologies, innovative solutions

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