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Published March 21, 2019
A weekly look at issues facing Wyoming business owners and entrepreneurs from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Kelly Haigler-Cornish. WSSI manager, Wyoming SBDC Network
Do you have an environmental, medical, robotic, distributed ledger, cybersecurity, educational, manufacturing, space or Internet of Things innovation?
These are among some of the 24 broad topics to choose from at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The good news is the NSF is a granting agency, so they have very broad topics, including one called “Other.” You may find a topic fit for innovative research at NSF.
The NSF Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs fund novel, high-risk research projects that address some of our nation’s challenges. These research projects must lead to a commercial product or services with demonstrated market pull.
What does novel mean? The NSF uses the words “game-changing,” “revolutionary” and “unproven” to describe the projects they fund. What does high-risk research mean? NSF describes this as a “high degree of technical risk,” that means your proposed research might fail since there are unknowns.
The NSF is piloting a new program called Project Pitch. Any small business interested in applying to NSF is required to submit a Project Pitch that includes a description of your technical innovation, the technical objectives, technical challenges, the market opportunity and information on your small business. This pilot process helps you and the agency determine if your project is a good fit, saving time for your small business and the agency.
The scientists at NSF will review your Project Pitch and send you an invitation to submit a full proposal for up to a $225,000 grant, or they will provide feedback on why your project is not a good fit.
Each small business can submit two Project Pitches per open window, but only one can be under consideration at a time. If your pitch is accepted, then you have to wait to hear back on the full proposal before submitting a new or revised pitch. Small businesses also are limited to one funded project per open window.
Does it sound daunting? Your local Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network adviser can help explore the SBIR/STTR program and the technology team at the Wyoming SBDC Network can assist in developing and polishing your project pitch. We can connect you with critical market research, help you define your business model and identify your customer niche. To get started, visit www.wyomingsbdc.org to sign up.
The NSF also is offering webinars to explain the new Proposal Pitch at seedfund.nsf.gov/events. We advise that you don’t wait until late April to submit a Project Pitch since it will take up to three weeks to receive feedback.
The Wyoming SBDC Network offers business expertise to help Wyoming residents think about, launch, grow, reinvent or exit their business. The Wyoming SBDC Network is hosted by UW with state funds from the Wyoming Business Council and funded, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.