Common SBIR Proposal Flaws

  Webinar - Introduction to SBIR/STTR

  Prep Course April 14th, FFVC

  Webinar - NSF Agency and Topics Overview

  2019 Venture Capital Year-end Review

  IRE Hosted by The Launch Place in Danville, VA

  Winning in the SBIR Program without Winning an Award

  2019 Tracking Innovation Report

  Access State-of-the-Art Technologies and Expertise at Core Laboratory Facilities

  NC IDEA MICRO and NC IDEA SEED Applications Open


Common SBIR Proposal Flaws

SBIR and STTR proposals are truly unique documents. They must meld together strong technical / scientific content with a robust understanding of the potential market and value creation possibilities. Often times it takes more than one attempt at submitting a proposal before it gets funded. Over years of reviewing proposals, working with clients and communicating with agency program staff, our team has seen a number of flaws that commonly are found in proposals. Below are a few of these.

Overpromising - Are you being too optimistic with the work you expect to accomplish? Most solicitations that you will submit a Phase 1 proposal for will have a set dollar cap and timeline. Although there are always exceptions, most agencies fund between $100k to $250k and provide 6 to 12 months of time. While it may be enticing to propose an unrealistic amount of work given the dollars and time available, reviewers will be critical of this. Their fear is that you may run out of funds before completing the work and, as a result, the entire project will be a bust.
Milestones Unclear - Have you developed milestones that are measurable? Your workplan should be divided into distinct technical aims, each with their own milestones. Considering that a phase 1 proposal should be focused on proving the feasibility of an innovation, the milestones that you set out to achieve must be measurable. If they are not, proving feasibility will be difficult. Whether it is quantitative and/or qualitative data that you expect to achieve, be sure to engage with a team member or consultant who brings statistical expertise.
Innovation - Are you developing something truly unique, or are you tweaking an existing solution to make it better? Agencies are looking to fund truly unique, innovative, novel technologies. It is your job in a proposal to suggest that your R&D efforts are going to move the state of the art forward in a big way. Proposals that suggest only incremental improvements to existing solutions simply are not innovative enough.
Value Proposition - Have you clearly described the potential value that your novel technology will have? It is imperative to define who will benefit from the technology you develop and by how much.  Value can be in many forms: economic, health, efficiency, etc. Benchmarking against the current solutions (ie. competition) is important here. This can be difficult to calculate, but showing the reviewers that you have taken steps to calculate educated estimates will go a long way toward building your credibility as a product-focused business.
The SBTDC's Tech Commercialization Team is available to work with you in an advisory capacity as you develop your proposal. Our services are confidential and no-cost.
Please visit here to learn more and reach out to .

Webinar - Introduction to SBIR/STTR
February 24th

Join the SBTDC for a detailed overview of the SBIR / STTR federal R&D funding mechanisms for small businesses. In this 45-minute webinar, we will help you to understand:
  • Funding levels and phased process
  • Participating agencies
  • How to identify agency interests (solicitations)
  • Differences between SBIR/STTR
  • Important content to include in a proposal
  • Key points to increase competitiveness
  • Resources to assist you
Date: Monday, February 24, 2020
Time: 2PM to 3PM

SBIR Road Tour
Prep Course
April 14th, FFVC

The SBIR Road Tour will be held April 15th in RTP . SBIR program managers from 12 agencies and branches will present an overview of their particular program and be available for one-on-one meetings with attendees.  
To make the most out of their visit, please join the SBTDC's Technology Commercialization Team for a Prep Course from 1:30pm to 4:30pm on April 14th at the First Flight Venture Center.
At this free event, you will learn:
  • How SBIR/STTR can be used as seed capital for growing your company
  • The missions of participating federal agencies
  • How to prepare for one-on-one meetings with SBIR program managers
Date: Tuesday, April 14, 2020
Location: First Flight Venture Center, 2 Davis Drive, Durham
Time: 1:30PM to 4:30PM

Webinar - NSF Agency and Topics Overview
April 23rd

Join National Science Foundation (NSF) program manager Dr. Nair on this 45-minute webinar to learn about NSF's:
  • Technical areas of interest
  • Pitch submission process
  • Proposal requirements
Date: Thursday, April 23, 2020
Time: 1PM to 2PM Eastern

SBIR/STTR Solicitation Dates

2019 Venture Capital Year-end Review

2019 marked the second year in a row that US companies raised over a billion dollars in venture capital funding. A closer look at the data for 2019 reveals a trend toward fewer, but larger size deals favoring more mature companies. Of the over ten thousand venture capital rounds closed in 2019, a small fraction (237 deals) made up a whopping 43% of the total. This is underlined by a growing trend of $100M+ mega-deals.
Pitchbook and NVCA's Venture Monitor is a great resource to learn about these trends. Interested in a deeper dive? Take a look for yourself:

IRE Hosted by The Launch Place in Danville, VA

The SBTDC delivered our highly regarded Investor-Ready Entrepreneur (IRE) program at The Launch Place in Danville, VA on January 16. The Launch Place has locations in both Virginia and North Carolina and strives to foster an environment for new and serial entrepreneurs to raise capital and garner the support system needed to take their products and/or solutions into the marketplace.
Mike Carnes served as lead presenter, with an assist from John Ujvari.  The all-star panel included Eva, Kip Johnson from Morningstar Law, and investor-advisor Ed Pettiss.  Rich Brancaccio from Revibe Technologies was our luncheon keynote speaker, and his story echoed many of the key points made throughout the day. 
Eva Doss, President and CEO of The Launch Place summed up the event: "It was a joy to work with the SBTDC team; your professionalism, attention to detail, planning and execution was the best I have experienced in a long time - and I thank you for that."

Eva Doss and Mike Carnes

Winning in the SBIR Program without
Winning an Award  

Regardless of the quality of an innovation, there are many instances where the SBIR program is simply not a fit. For example, there are times when an innovation is beyond the proof-of-concept phase, and there are times that the reviewers will not consider your innovation as a final product. Instead, the agency will consider the innovation to be a component of a larger technology product in which the particular agencies find more fundable. Of course, the dreaded "lack of technical risk" always looms heavily over SBIR proposals and can be the reason that an agency will not fund an otherwise solid product.

___ read more ___

2019 Tracking Innovation Report

North Carolina has the 12th largest economy in the United States and the 22nd largest in the world. One of our strongest sources of innovation is our universities, which excel at research & development, generate significant intellectual capital, facilitate the creation of startup companies, and produce a well-educated and well-trained science & engineering workforce.

North Carolina also has one of the fastest growing populations in the country, and the average years of education of its newest residents is above the U.S. average. Moreover, its science, engineering and technology enterprises are doing well, increasing in employment, and have wages well above the U.S. average for all establishments.

For two decades, North Carolina Department of Commerce, Office of Science, Technology & Innovation has been tracking Innovations in North Carolina. The 2019 Innovation Index data showed that North Carolina's national rank has improved, based on an assessment of all of the measures taken as a whole. The full report is available at:

Access State-of-the-Art Technologies and Expertise at Core Laboratory Facilities

Many facilities at University and non-profit research institutions across North Carolina offer research and development support services to both internal and external users. These facilities are a significant resource for researcher and student training and offer a wide range of services, high-end instrumentation, and technical support.

Academic, government and industry partners are welcome to take advantage of the robust research infrastructure offered by these Core Facilities.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has made available a database of Core Facilities searchable by expertise and available equipment. To view, please visit:

NC IDEA MICRO & NC IDEA SEED Applications Open

NC IDEA MICRO  awards small, project-based grants up to $10K to young companies looking to validate and advance their idea.
NC IDEA SEED offers early stage companies the critical funding they need to scale faster. The $50K grants are awarded to innovative startups with a proven concept - even if they are not yet profitable.
NC IDEA MICRO and  NC IDEA SEED  grant applications open February 3, 2020 and close March 2, 2020 at 5 p.m. ET.


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