NSF Awards up Significantly in NC in Past Decade

  NSF Pilots New SBIR/STTR Application Process

  NC's Kepley BioSystems NSF SBIR Focuses on Horseshoe Crabs

  No stone left unturned- A well rounded funding strategy

  Innovating for Developing Economies


nsfNSF Awards up Significantly in NC in Past Decade

NSF is the 5th largest agency of the 11 that participate in the SBIR program. SSTI recently analyzed NSF award data over the period of 2013 to 2017 during which over 2100 awards were made. Below are some key findings.
NSF SBIR awards are the least concentrated, meaning no companies in this period received more than 10 awards. Conversely more than half of the awardees of DoD SBIRs have received more than 10 awards, followed by 37% at NASA, 35% at DoE and 11% at NIH.
In North Carolina the win rates between 2008 and 2012 were 19% compared to 25% between 2013 and 2017 while the number of proposals submitted between the two period increased from 210 to 252 and awards made increased from 39 to 63.  This places our state at #9 nationally for number of awards made and #3 in win rate compared to #12 and #22 in the earlier period respectively.

North Carolina Data
2008 - 2012 2013 - 2017
Proposals Received 210 252
Awards Made 39 63
Win Rate 19% 25%
Nationally Ranked for Awards #12 #9
Nationally Ranked for Win Rates #22 #3

nsfNSF Pilots New SBIR/STTR Application Process

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a new, pilot program for their SBIR/STTR proposal submission process. On March 5th, the NSF implemented full "Submission Windows" for invited proposals (as opposed to specific deadlines). The first Submission Window is active now and will close on June 13, 2019. The next will open June 14th (the very next day) and closes on December 12, 2019 (the scheduled end for this pilot program).

Before you can submit a proposal, however, you must first complete and submit a "Project Pitch" webform. Then, if the NSF determines the idea is a good fit, you will receive an invitation to submit a full proposal.

The Project Pitch webform consists of company information, followed by short write-ups on:
  • The technical innovation
  • The technical objectives and challenges
  • The market opportunity and
  • The company and team
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nsfNC's Kepley BioSystems NSF SBIR Focuses on Horseshoe Crabs

Every year, hundreds of thousands of wild Atlantic horseshoe crabs (HSCs) are captured and ultimately returned to the water by the biomedical industry. Their blood is required to conduct drug and device sterility testing to protect the safety of millions of patients every year, worldwide. Recently, demand has increased for Atlantic HSCs due to the imminent extinction of the Asian species as a result of overharvesting. In addition to being captured for bleeding purposes, HSCs are often used as whelk and eel bait. 

Not only do these activities negatively impact HSC populations, they also threaten important shorebird species that depend on HSC eggs for essential nutrition while migrating to northern nesting grounds. 

In an effort to seek alternatives to wild capture, a pilot HSC field study is being established on 
Jekyll Island  in Coastal Georgia, in cooperation with the Jekyll Island Authority and Georgia 4-H Tidelands Center. The study will evaluate novel approaches to collection of this vital HSC blood component used to prepare Limulus amebocyte lysate. 

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ncreviewRecent SBIR Event

The SBTDC's Tech Commercialization Team recently presented at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to an audience of over 70 local tech companies and university faculty. The event, co-sponsored by UNC-Charlotte Research and Economic Development featured presentations from our team on Phase 1 proposal preparation, components of commercialization, perspectives of an NSF proposal reviewer and two successful awardees from the Charlotte region.

No stone left unturned- A well rounded funding strategy

There is no doubt that the SBIR program can help companies advance research and product development to a point where some of the risk has been mitigated for investors. After all, NSF recently rebranded their SBIR program to be titled "America's Seed Fund". The NSF SBIR program is committed to funding high-risk, early stage companies that may feel abandoned by the investment community. This funding can indeed be the lifeblood for startups in place of initial rounds of equity financing that early stage investors have largely reserved for companies further upstream with demonstrated revenue traction.
Investors participate in a marketplace with an abundance of promising new ventures. From that perspective it makes a lot of sense for them to allow the government to fund research and innovation to remove some risk. This is especially true for companies that require significant R&D and operate in a regulated environment. There have been several academic research reports and published data by the agencies suggesting that the SBIR program does indeed increase a company's odds of raising follow-on equity capital.
A study evaluating 7,436 companies receiving SBIRs between 1983-2013 found that 40% of Phase I winners don't apply for Phase II 1. Equity funded companies are disproportionally represented in this group. This data suggests that Phase I funding alone can be enough to help validate a company's technology and advance R&D to a point where investors are more likely to participate. There were also legislative changes in 2012 that provide more flexibility to venture backed businesses applying for SBIRs. This means companies can raise equity capital while also executing on their SBIR funding strategies. Entrepreneurs and investors alike should both be cautious however as there are some limitations on investor ownership, business status, and there is variation in what different agencies allow. For more detail on SBIR eligibility check out this article published by Raleigh law firm Hutchison Law. Also see these FAQs on sbir.gov on the topic.
Ultimately it is up to every company to evaluate whether equity financing is needed or appropriate in their situation. If it is, SBIR funding could be a helpful step in getting there. It's important to align SBIR research outcomes with value creating company milestones. Start thinking about a well-rounded funding strategy early and don't hesitate to reach out to the SBTDC Technology Commercialization team to discuss your specific situation.  

Upcoming Events

Becoming an Investor Ready Entrepreneur 
Date:  June 28 or July 11
Location: North Carolina Biotechnology Center, NC
Registration coming soon
Innovating for Developing Economies

Living in one of the largest economies in the world, innovators in the United States naturally want to tap into their home market. However, not all technology is suited for the relatively advanced infrastructure and lifestyle of the US. For instance, while clean water is still a priority here at home, systems are in place to bring safe water to the vast majority of homes in this country. However, innovations in clean water are substantially different in a region where basic sanitation deficiencies are causing an issue with the water supply or there simply is no water supply.
But wait, why would someone wish to enter a market with so few resources that they cannot afford basic utilities? The answer is that there are many government agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs) with stated missions to introduce technology to those regions through supporting innovators. This translates into opportunities in funding, partnerships, sales relationships, etc. with governments and NGOs. While the process is not as clearly mapped as with some grants, such as the SBIR program, a good place to start is with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


Strategies for IP Protection in China: What North Carolina Businesses Need to Know
Date:  April 25 | 9:00am to 4:00pm
Location:   Sanford Building, Room 04, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
201 Science Drive
Durham, NC 27708
Registration and agenda: http://bit.ly/2HHmyTE


The North Carolina Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) educates business associates on how to obtain contracts by providing comprehensive assistance in selling products and services to local, state and federal government agencies.
The SBTDC's International Business Development Specialists assists small and mid-sized businesses with export planning and exporting.

The Team

The Technology Commercialization Services team provides one-on-one business counseling and advice 
to: small business owners, university researchers, and entrepreneurs looking to advance their innovations to the marketplace.

Director, Technology Development 
and Commercialization 
SBIR/STTR Specialist & Newsletter Editor 
Technology Commercialization Counselor
Eastern NC
Technology Commercialization Counselor
North Central NC
Technology Commercialization Counselor
Western NC

Technology Commercialization Program

5 West Hargett St., Suite 600 Raleigh, NC 27601