Picking Your Product: A Guide to Beginning Your SBIR Adventure

The new reauthorization act will soon allow venture capital-backed companies to compete for SBIR/STTR funding. So now is the time to begin thinking about grant topics.

The SBIR/STTR program is a government program that hands out $2B each year to small businesses. Want to compete for a piece of that pie, but don’t know where to start?

Here is a set of questions on six different aspects of your application that you should think through before you begin your SBIR Adventure. Read the rest of this entry »

A Guide to Navigating the “Alphabet Soup” of Logins Required to Submit an SBIR/STTR Grant


Courtesy of Flikr – Creative Commons

The new SBIR/STTR reauthorization bill has passed and now allows venture capital-backed companies to apply for SBIR/STTR funding (see what the SBA has to say on implementation here). The company’s founders (and your Board) are telling you that the company needs to pursue non-dilutive funding. So, naturally, you are starting to think about SBIR and STTR grants.

First, you must remember that this is the government. Do you realize you need no less than SEVEN logins to apply for a grant to NIH? It is an alphabet soup of sorts – EIN/TID, DUNS, SAM (E-Biz POC), MPIN, AOR (grants.gov), eRA Commons (PI, SO, AO)…

Here’s a guide to help you make sense of all this.

Read the rest of this entry »

Four More Tips for SBIR/STTR Grant Applicants

On the last day of 2011, President Obama rang in the new year by signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA) HR.1540 into law. This bill gave the SBIR/STTR program a much-needed (OK, huge) breath of fresh air, extending the program into the second half of 2017.

Grant money

Image - Flickr/Creative Commons

The April 5 deadline for the NIH Omnibus solicitation is approaching, so now is the time to start thinking about preparing your application. As a follow-up to a post last year on Five Tips for First-Time SBIR/STTR Grant Applicants, I have compiled four more tips that you should consider when assembling your application. Read the rest of this entry »

Five Essential Self-editing Tips for People Who Don’t Like Self-editing

Editing tips

Courtesy: net_efekt

How many times have you been giving an important presentation and seen glaring errors on the big screen that you swear weren’t there before? Or read one of your emails and cringed because you didn’t give it a once-over before sending? Here, guest blogger (and veteran copywriter) Dan O’Sullivan gives us a few tips on self-editing.


Like it or not, most of us have to spend at least part of our workday writing. You may be carefully crafting a presentation you’ve been asked to give or just dashing off a few emails over morning coffee.

If whatever it is you’re writing is important — and you don’t have the luxury of an editor watching your back — then you have to spend some time self-editing.

“But I’m not an editor,” I can hear you whine. “I hated English in high school, and I majored in biology in college,” you mutter as the sweat begins dripping down your brow. “If it involves anything more than running Spellcheck, I don’t think I can take it!” you scream.

It’s okay. Relax. You may never be a professional-level editor, but you can at least do a pretty good job. Start by following these five tips. And while you’re at it, always take a few minutes to read your writing aloud. That step alone will help you catch the most embarrassing errors. Read the rest of this entry »

Six Resources for SBIR/STTR Grant Applicants and Grantees

Are you new to SBIRs? Need help navigating the application process? Or do you want to stay up-to-date on the latest SBIR/STTR news? In this blog post, I describe some of the resources available to SBIR/STTR applicants and grantees. Read the rest of this entry »

Should Your Grant be an SBIR or STTR?

Can a U.S. research institution, such as a University, apply for an STTR? Or if a small business is collaborating with a University, do they have to apply for an STTR? Or can they write an SBIR?

If you’re wondering whether the grant you’d like to write is an SBIR or STTR, here are some facts to help you decide. Read the rest of this entry »

Perplexed by Homonyms?

Homonyms… wow- now there’s a word I haven’t heard since grade school! Loosely defined, it means “similar-sounding words that mean different things”.

As a follow up to my “Three Tricks for Tricky Word Choices” post, I thought I’d expand on the topic to clarify four groups of homonyms that can be confusing. As a scientist – and not an English major – you may knowingly (or unknowingly) misuse these words when writing your next manuscript or grant. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Your SBIR Grant Proposal Innovative?

“Innovation” is all the buzz these days. It has even made it’s way up to The Oval Office with the launch of Startup America. And recently, the NIH and other granting institutions finally jumped on the innovation bandwagon and made this a point that needs to be specifically addressed in your SBIR grant application. Not surprising: after all, it is the “I” in SBIR!

Many clients of The Isis Group struggle with this section of their SBIR/STTR grant application. This section deserves extra attention, and not only because it is part of your overall score. In a sense, you are really selling yourself, your institution, your know-how and your idea. How does a scientist put on a sales hat and write a compelling innovation section? Here are some tips. Read the rest of this entry »

Search and Destroy: Eliminate Wordy Phrases From Your Manuscript in an Instant

The editors at The Isis Group often joke that we should put together a list of phrases used by scientists that should automatically be eliminated from every manuscript or grant that we edit. Well… here is a first draft of that list.

Most of these examples arise from excessive wordiness or the use of unnecessary phrases. Our advice: use the search function in your word processing program, find these phrases, and hit that delete or replace button. Read the rest of this entry »

Touch Their Hearts; Get Their Money – Four Tips to Telling a Grant-Winning Story

Anna Goldsmith

Time and again, we hear how important it is to tell a good story when giving a presentation. Here, guest blogger Anna Goldsmith, an exceptionally creative and witty copywriter and successful entrepreneur, gives us geeky scientists a few tips on how to pull this off. Enjoy!


So you’ve invented something. Something big. Something that’s going to absolutely and forever change how doctors/scientists/researchers/the human race does Y. (I don’t know what you invented. I’m not a scientist. I’m a writer.) You even managed to get an audience with Company Z who has the resources to turn X into a reality.
Great: What now?

What is it going to take to turn your dream into a reality…
And more staff and equipment to call your own? It doesn’t take a degree. Your competitors have that. (Come on, you didn’t think you were the only one after Company Z’s money, did you?) It doesn’t take a great idea — that’s a given if you got the meeting. What separates you from your competitors is your ability to make Company Z care about your idea. And that means you have to tell a good story. Panicking? Don’t. You probably know a lot more about the art of storytelling than you think: especially if you are a parent.

Here are four tips that will have them eating out of the palm of your hand or better yet, reaching for their wallet: Read the rest of this entry »