Not a direct part of the economic stimulus package, and only extended by Congress (as of March 20th) for another 60 days, a significant source of funding for primary research by startup greentech companies has been from the EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research which manages the funding of the SBIR – Small Business Innovation Research program, and STTR – Small Business Technology Transfer program. Both SBIR and STTR monies are channeled through as many as 12 other federal agencies. Click here to discover the GreenTech funding opportunities within these agencies and sub-agencies.
Anyone in the GreenTech business universe ought to recognize the following R&D categories being funded by various federal agencies, i.e. the EPA, DOE, DOD and NSF to name a few. Some of these free money R&D categories may be the exact same areas of research you are about to commit to, or have been thinking – or dreaming – about doing.
|Clean air – innovations to
ensure healthy air are just beginning.
(Photo: US EPA)
The 2010 EPA-SBIR Broad Area Topics are:
- Green Building Materials and Systems
- Innovation in Manufacturing
- Greenhouse Gases
- Drinking Water and Water Monitoring
- Water Infrastructure
- Air Pollution
- Biofuels and Vehicle Emissions Reduction
- Waste Management and Monitoring
- Homeland Security
The 2010 NSF Broad Area Topics are:
- Biotech and Chemical Technologies (BC)
- Education Applications (EA)
- Information and Communication Technologies (IC)
- Advanced Materials and Manufacturing (NM)
There are specific sub-categories for each of these broad area topics.
To see if your companies R&D interests and that of our governments are aligned click into these links:
- EPA-SBIR Program Solicitation: http://es.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/2009/2009_sbir_phase1.html
- More information is available on the EPA-SBIR web site at: http://es.epa.gov/ncer/sbir/
- NSF/SBIR Program Solicitation: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2009/nsf09541/nsf09541.htm#pgm_desc_txt
- More information is available on the NSF-SBIR web site at: http://http://www.nsf.gov/eng/iip/sbir/stop.jsp
The closing dates for the EPA-SBIR are May 20th. This means for this funding year, applicants only have 45 days left to get that EPA-SBIR proposal in. For NSF-SBIR the close date is June 9th. Companies are eligible to apply to both of these and others, like STTR.
The NSF Phase I limits have gone up to $150,000 because of a surge of “reinvestment” monies from the Obama administration. Also, NSF allows for a maximum of 4 proposals from any one private company. As with most business endeavors, there are many “optimizing strategies” that can be applied and the federal grant money-making environment for small businesses is no exception.
Federal research “grants” are just that, grants. They are not loans, i.e., you don’t have to pay anything back. You will to do some periodic reporting and invoice the government to get your money, but that is well worth the time and effort expended to perform these grant maintenance tasks if you win an award. In many cases, if you win the money then the maintenance efforts which can be an administrative burden for small or even mid-size companies, can be paid for from grant monies you’ve won. For example, the EPA/SBIR allows for up to $4,000 of the Phase I grant winnings (won through a separate but conjoined proposal) for what is referred to as “Technical Assistance.”
Don’t be intimidated by the grant writing task. Most all SBIR type grants are written by the chief scientist or the engineer as CEO/President of small, private companies. You will not be competing with professional grant writers. That said, it is important to know there is a “style” to grant writing, and there is certain marketing or “pitching” in the grant writing space. You have to have a certain marketing sensibility in writing to the agency and program you are writing to. In this sense I suggest you check out last years winners and get a sense of who won and read their abstracts, or better yet, give the “chief investigator” at the company a phone call and ask them if they are willing to share their grant proposal. Having a winning proposal in hand is a beautiful thing. Also the agency itself can assist you in assessing the “alignment” of your research with that agencies specific funding objectives. First, do your homework before you call or write as they will remember your name and the name of your company especially if your waste their time.
These often overlooked grant programs can provide a decisive financial edge to greentech startups and greentech entrepreneurs who are looking for cash and have a “novel” GreenTech (or other) R&D idea.
Brian Hennessy provides proven expert, hands-on assistance to start-up company founders and executive management. He has worked on 12 start-ups and with 9 Founders or CEO’s of start-ups over the last 25 years. www.maxroix.com