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Published November 14, 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, Wyoming SBIR/STTR Initiative (WSSI) manager
If you have an idea or invention, then the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program may be able to help you gain funding for research, development and commercialization. The SBIR program awards about $2.5 billion annually to small businesses that have an innovation that may improve our country.
First-time applicants and those who are just considering an application for funding from one of the federal agencies often ask how long it takes to prepare an SBIR application. This question can be answered a couple of ways. The easiest answer is, it takes 100-200-plus hours. While that is a true statement, it really isn’t helpful.
A better question might be: “How many weeks should I plan to spend preparing my SBIR application?” The answer to that question is, in an ideal situation, you should allow at least eight weeks or more.
To start your timeline, count back eight weeks from the federal application due date. Your Wyoming SBDC Network advisers will guide you throughout the process.
Eight weeks before due date: At least eight weeks before the deadline of your selected funding opportunity, make sure that you have registered with the federal government. The Wyoming SBDC Network’s procurement specialists will help you navigate this process. You also will need to register your company at www.sbir.gov and complete the agency-specific proposal submission registration.
If you are a Wyoming resident operating a sole proprietorship, partnership or you've registered with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office as a Wyoming domestic company, you can apply for a Wyoming Phase 0 award to assist you with your initial proposal -- known as the Phase I application. This competitively awarded $5,000 amount provides funds to help Wyoming small businesses prepare more competitive Phase I proposals.
Seven weeks before due date: Calculate your operating expenses -- known as the indirect rate -- to figure out what amount you will need to include in your proposal. If you are not sure what costs to include in the indirect rate, we can help with that. Size your budget by removing the costs tied to the indirect rate and approximately 7 percent for fee/profit. The remainder is a reasonable estimate of the funds available for the direct costs on the project. Now that you have a financial picture, begin writing the work plan portion of the Phase I and keep working on it and other sections of the application through to week four.
Start contacting customers, end users and supporters -- possible funders, subcontractors and consultants -- for letters of support.
Work with your Wyoming SBDC Network adviser to submit a market research request for secondary research data to support your commercialization plan.
Four weeks before due date: Get outside technical reviews from trusted colleagues who can identify flaws in your research design or any gaps or omissions in the scientific literature. If you have won a Phase 0 award, send your SBIR proposal to your Wyoming mentor.
Three weeks before due date: Submit the Phase I application to the Wyoming SBDC Network for review. Incorporate reviewer comments into your second draft.
Two weeks before due date: Send the second draft of your Phase I application to your Wyoming mentor and the Wyoming SBDC Network for review.
Two to five days before due date: We recommend that you plan to submit your Phase I proposal earlier than the due date in case any technical difficulties arise.
The process and timeline can vary for each business and each funding agency. Please note, for simplification, steps were condensed, and tasks were omitted. This is just a guideline and should be considered the minimum time needed to prepare a competitive Phase I application. Your Wyoming SBDC Network advisers are here to help you fill in the gaps. To get started, sign up at www.wyomingsbdc.org today.
The Wyoming SBDC Network offers business expertise to help Wyoming residents think about, launch, grow, reinvent or exit their businesses. 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 email@example.com, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY 82071-3922.