Your company has made the decision to pursue non-dilutive funding. Locating agencies and choosing proposal topics is an important first step down the road to winning SBIR funding.
I group solicitations into two buckets: investigator-initiated, and agency-initiated. For example, NIH has both, NSF solicitations are agency-initiated but are broad topics, and DoD are strictly defined agency-initiated contracts.
Here are some resources that can assist you in identifying solicitations.
All individual agencies post their current solicitations on their websites, and most publish closed solicitations as well. The closed solicitations can help investigators determine what types of topics each agency is interested in. Most agencies also list funded abstracts, awarding companies and award amounts. The best resource for looking at this information for NIH awards is the RePORTER database.
While each agency has their own solicitation listings, there are several engines that perform searches across agencies.
SBIR Source is a new paid resource that not only allows you to search for solicitations across agencies, but you can also research program managers and what companies you may be competing against. They are aiming for their database to be the most comprehensive and current search engine for solicitations.
The SBIR Gateway lists all agencies that fund SBIR and STTR grants and contracts, and provides a link to their solicitations. While you’re there, sign up for Rick Shindell’s free SBIR newsletter to keep up-to-date on the political ebb and flow of the SBIR program.
The grants.gov search engine has granting opportunities from all agencies, both SBIR and non-SBIR. Beware: unless you use the right search criteria, you could be muddling through solicitations that are irrelevant or no longer available. Grants.gov also has an email notification for new solicitations.
The SBIR.gov website was set up by the SBA to be a one-stop shop for everything SBIR. Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite reached that point; however, there are some interesting metrics such as awards by state or year. They also have a free email newsletter, which updates investigators on regional SBA workshops and general SBIR information.
Government contracts are also an avenue to obtain non-dilutive funding. FedBizOpps is the government’s listing of contract solicitations. These are typically agency-initiated with defined goals.
Lastly, foundations can also be targeted as part of a strategy to obtain non-dilutive funding. NIAID has an extensive list of foundations and The Foundation Center has a search engine as well as a daily email with solicitations and award announcements.
Remember: For-profit companies are also eligible for non-SBIR granting mechanisms at NIH, such as R01, R21 and R03. Having an academic partner for these applications is a definite plus as the reviewers come from predominantly academic institutions.
If you need some help with your solicitation search, or have questions about the SBIR/STTR program, contact The Isis Group.