The National Science Foundation (NSF) is a major funder of seed and early stage companies through its Small Business Innovation Research program. These competitive grants fund promising innovative companies with up to $150,000 in a 6-month Phase 1 grant to prove out new technologies in engineering or ‘hard sciences’. Phase 1 winners are eligible to apply for a 2-year Phase 2 grant, which could be $750,000 or more. In fact, our area has been very successful at winning these awards – $4.8 million in the five years ended 2013. If Ithaca was one of New York State’s 10 regions, we’d come in third, behind the Capital Region at $10.6m and New York City at $6.8m. In fact, Ithaca companies won more NSF awards than the remainder of Central and Western New York – combined.
If your company is commercializing a new technology in engineering or the ‘hard sciences’ this could be you, too. Phase 1 applications are due at 5pm on December 2. That may sound like a while from now, but while a great proposal isn’t terribly long (max = 15 pages) it needs significant preparation, including 3 strong support letters from potential customers, funders, or partners – ideally from folks high up at big companies with lots of spending power. You will also need a corporate entity, a DUNS number, and be registered with the federal government and with Fastlane, the NSF’s proposal system. Each of these steps takes a little time.
The solicitation is here and the topic areas are here. With a well-written proposal you could follow in the footsteps of great Ithaca companies like Rheonix, iFyber, Illuminaria, Odyssey Scientific, TaggPic, Novomer, Orthogonal, or Monolith Semiconductor – all Ithaca companies that have won NSF SBIR awards since 2008.
Are you an Ithaca-based company with questions about SBIR funding, growing your startup – or do you want to become an Ithaca-based startup? Reach out to us and let us know! [email protected]