Your idea or technology may be worthy of funding from the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, also known as “America’s seed fund”—but how do you know it’s really worth the time and effort to submit a proposal?
The SBIR program has an explicit goal of commercialization, and actually requires you to form a company to bring your idea to market. The company is receiving funds, not your lab. Some agencies will allow the company to assign some work to your lab, but that work is a subset of the overall proposal.
BU faculty and staff have a vast array of resources at their disposal as they set out to commercialize their work, including the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center (MSBDC). The MSBDC provides confidential and free business advice, including feedback on business pitches, business plan development, and assistance securing funding.
STEP 1: Put your idea to commercialize on paper.
In one page or less, explain who you are, the nature of your work (e.g., prototyping, creating software), and what specific results you expect to produce (e.g., proving an idea has value, demonstrating a new capability for an existing product, conducting a critical experiment).
- 2 Paragraphs: Describe your company and team
- 1-2 Paragraphs: What you’d do with $150,000
- 1-2 Paragraphs: What you’d do with $1,000,000 or more
Keep in mind, this document isn’t confidential, so don’t explain how you do the work.
STEP 2: Share your one-pager with the MSBDC.
To have your one-pager reviewed and learn which offices may be interested in your work, register with the MSBDC: msbdc.org/sbir
STEP 3: The MSBDC will help you share with federal program managers for feedback.
By the end of this step, you’ll know whether a program manager values your idea.
STEP 4: Decide whether or not to submit an SBIR proposal.
By this point you should know whether your idea is a good match for an SBIR grant, and can confidently move forward with a proposal—or go in another direction entirely. Reach out to BU Technology Development to discuss other possibilities: email@example.com.
Learn more in this blog post from Rana K. Gupta, Director of Faculty Entrepreneurship.