Welcome to the XLerator Network’s Guide to SBIR/STTR!

We created this guide to assist you with learning more about the SBIR/STTR process. Easy to access tutorials provided by SBA, “war stories” by experts in the community who have successfully received funding, and a monthly column will help you learn more about how to develop a fundable proposal. You may even be eligible for a competitive program for 1:1 personal assistance.

SBIR Corner

Interested in 1:1 Assistance?

A new cohort of researchers and early stage university startups in our region to receive mentoring and coaching from our experts on SBIR strategies development and execution is being selected now! These teams will be coached on analysis of funding space, review of competitors or similar companies that have been funded lately, understanding the differentiators, review of funding announcements, engagement with the funding agency, etc., targeting April 2021 submission cycle at NIH.

Reach out to us if you would like to be considered for this cohort (and share this with other researchers that you think might qualify).

Dr. Eugene Krentsel
Chief Scientific Officer,

Today I would like to talk about the tools for analyzing your proposed funding space that are publicly available, but not used as widely as they should be.

I want to emphasize how important it is to have a clear picture of what NIH has already funded. While some may think that being in the “league of their own” could be helpful in winning the grant, the reality is that in most cases you would get a much better chance of getting an award if your proposed research space is already on the Institute’s priority list (and we’ll focus on NIH and its Institutes today). Don’t get me wrong – you absolutely need to demonstrate what differentiates your proposal from others that have been funded in that space; in particular, show that your approach has a great potential to result in outcomes that could not be achievable by your competitors. Just having a different path to substantially the same outcomes is unlikely to get you funded.

The tool that I am going to talk about is called NIH RePORTER and its fantastic built-in function called Matchmaker. While the RePORTER is a terrific tool allowing you to dissect the NIH database of funded projects in so many ways, Matchmaker function goes much further. It allows you to copy your whole abstract or other scientific text (up to 15,000 characters) and paste it right into the Matchmaker window. It will analyze it and return a list of similar projects funded by NIH, summarizing them by the program official, institute or center, review panel, and activity code.

That information is invaluable as you are framing your idea and are thinking which particular Institute at NIH would be most interested in what you are proposing.

Remarkably, it will also return three visual graphs – blue one will show which NIH institutes or centers are primarily funding similar projects, red one will show what activity codes these projects use (e.g., R01, or R21, or – what you’d be mostly interested in – R41, R42, R43, and R44, which are SBIR/STTR grants), and green one will show which study sections reviewed those projects.  You can narrow the results down by selecting a particular institute, or a particular grant type (say, NCI, or R43).

As a result, you will have a very precise and clear picture of where the funding has been directed and which Institutes have funded them – armed with that information you would be in a much more advantageous position when you prepare your Specific Aims and have a technical call with your potential Program Officer (which you absolutely should do in advance of your submission).

That’s it for today – please stay safe and healthy, and reach out to us via [email protected] or take our short questionnaire to let us know how we could help you think strategically about aligning various SBIR/STTR and other non-dilutive funding opportunities with YOUR unique path to commercialize your technology or product faster, so that your innovation could make a difference in people’s health and lives sooner.

"Perception of SBIR Funding by Investors"
by Annette Finsterbusch, serial entrepreneur, Kauffman Fellow, and Founder of Applied Ventures (venture arm of Applied Materials) shares her perspectives on SBIR and other non-dilutive funding.