Credibility Wins! Homework Establishes the Foundation

We are often asked what it takes to win SBIR awards. In one word it is credibility. In a webinar earlier this year a company that has been successful in receiving SBIR funding stated that “You start with zero credibility with the federal agency and can go negative from there.” To avoid that you must have sound science, a well thought out plan to develop it, the people who are clearly qualified to accomplish all aspects of the plan, the needed facilities and equipment, and a reasonable approach to reach a viable market for the product developed. But you can greatly enhance your credibility by first doing your homework.

The first issue to address in doing your homework is to understand the mission of the agency and the particular sub-agency or center you are considering applying to. This will better aid you in orienting your proposal so that it aligns with the needs of that agency. You can start with information available on the web, but most agencies have conferences where they discuss current developments and future needs. Yes this takes time and money, but who said getting to know your customer would be easy.

Next you need to know what other products are available and what other research is being done in this field to address the problems that you want to solve. Stating “There is no competition for this technology” will not get you any credibility. If you do not know what others are doing, you cannot explain why your solution is better. And your claim that you are knowledgeable in this field is damaged.

Then you need to get to know the federal agency people and start establishing your credibility. More on that later.