Not Just Letters of Support for Your SBIR/STTR Proposal…Letters of Commitment!
With the National Institutes of Health (NIH) SBIR deadline drawing near, don’t forget to include the letters from partners who will be included on your SBIR project. Partners include consultants, sub-contractors, key personnel and commercialization resources included in the proposal.
Now, although called Letters of Support, these letters are really “Letters of Commitment”! They are IOUs from your team members to the company. It’s important to note that they are always addressed to the Principal Investigator (PI) on the project or the Business Official at the company – not to NIH. Let’s take a look at some of these letters and what goes into them.
- A Letter from a Senior/Key person (including the PI) needs to be included if the person your company is planning to hire is currently employed elsewhere, but plans to join the company at the time of award. The letter will state that they will be employed at the applicant company at the time of award, and include their anticipated time commitment and role on the project.
- Letters from Subcontractors need to mention clearly who at the sub-contracting organization is working on the project, clarify their role and time commitment on the project and the budget for the sub-contract. These letters must be on the sub-contracting organization’s letterhead.
- Letters from Consultants must specify their time commitment, the specific guidance they are providing on the project, and the compensation they are being offered by the applicant company.
- Letters from Commercialization Partners are typically part of a Phase II proposal. They are provided by potential investors, distributors, strategic partners, prospective customers, potential licensees, etc. Such letters must be “tangible,” i.e., they must demonstrate a market need and clear commercial path for the product being developed and the company’s ability to attract the right resources to carry though to successful commercialization.
While a commitment of personnel, finances, resources and partnerships is definitely helpful, generic excitement on a “revolutionary” technology is not…. So keep these tips in mind as you start collecting Letters of Support (read: Commitment!), and keep BBC in mind if you have any questions along the way.
Andrea Johanson, PhD, is a Principal Consultant with BBC Entrepreneurial Training & Consulting