But, Wait…There’s More (to know about DoE’s SBIR/STTR Program)
In our last blog, we highlighted the Department of Energy’s SBIR/STTR program, noting some of the changes that are being introduced for FY2013 topics. With DoE SBIR/STTR Letters of Intent due Sept. 4 (and applications due on Oct. 16), we wanted to share a few other unusual aspects to DoE’s SBIR/STTR program that not only differ from what they did before FY2012, but from what is done by most of the 10 other participating federal agencies.
- SBIR and STTR are both included on the same solicitation with the same topics. Your company can submit the SAME proposal for both SBIR and STTR in one proposal as long as you meet all of the requirements of both programs.
- Formerly, DoE allowed an unlimited number of proposals for each solicitation from one company. They now limit the number to 10 proposals per company per release.
- DoE has moved to a release system that is similar to that of contracting agencies like Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security. They now issue the topics first, followed by the formal Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) about a month later. This allows free and open exchange between potential applicants and Program Managers during that 4-week period, but no direct contact between issuance of the FOA and the proposal due date. As with the contracting agencies, any questions you have during this closed period can only be asked through a public portal visible to all (FedConnect for DOE).
- Applicants MUST specify both the topic and subtopic to which they are applying in the Letter of Intent and in the application. Failure to do so will result in administrative denial with no review.
- Most topics do have a subtopic called “Other” inviting grant applications in other areas that “fall within the scope of the topic description.” About nine percent of the Phase I awards in FY 2011 were in the “Other” category. BBC strongly advises clients to talk with the cognizant program officer before submitting applications to make sure they will consider a proposal responsive to their topics.
- DoE does not allow co-Principal Investigators (PIs), and they take assignment of the PI very seriously. While it is possible to change PIs during a project or between Phase I and Phase II, they have been known to deny the change.
- A brief commercialization plan MUST be included in a Phase I grant application. The Commercialization Plan will be evaluated under the “Impact” criterion and should address the following elements:
- Market Opportunity to be addressed
- Intellectual Property status and plans
- Company/Team—capabilities of present personnel and/or planned additions to your staff that will enable successful commercialization
- You MUST include the following statement (verbatim) at the beginning of your Commercialization Plan: “(Company Name Here) estimates sales revenue of $_____ and licensing revenues of $______ during the first ten years of commercialization.”
- In accordance with the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011, the DoE offers discretionary commercialization assistance to all DoE SBIR and STTR Phase I awardees. Award recipients can either utilize the vendor that DoE has contracted for Commercialization assistance, OR you may identify your own commercialization assistance provider (click for information about BBC’s commercialization services). If you opt to use your own provider, you are REQUIRED to include this as a subcontract or consultant in your Phase I budget and to provide a detailed budget justification for up to $5000. This does not count toward the maximum award size; e.g. seeking commercialization assistance from your own provider could result in a maximum award of $155,000 rather than $150,000.
DOE will hold a webinar on August 17 to discuss important changes to their SBIR/STTR programs for the coming year.
BBC will present a webinar, “Tips on Electronic Submission to DoE,” on Sept. 6, 1-3 PM (EDT). To join us for that, click here to register.
Becky Aistrup is a Principal Consultant with BBCetc.