Apr. 26, 2011 SDF NSF SBIR Figueroa

On Apr. 26, 2011, in Redwood City at White & Lee, SDForum hosted Dr. Juan Figueroa’s presentation “Tapping Federal Money for Research and Development.” Starting his career at Bell Labs, Figueroa is now Program Director for the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research (NSF SBIR) program which is part of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships, Directorate for Engineering (NSF ENG/IIP).

Over the past sixty years the NSF has invested in a wide range of technology that we use everyday. The Internet is the best example of how government funding for innovation can create whole new industries and jobs. SBIR brings together academia, public and private sectors to commercialize innovation. As Geoff Nicholson of 3M said “Innovation is the transformation of knowledge into money.”

SBIR helps companies get the no-dilution, no-debt startup capital needed for research and development to begin early stage commercialization. While many experienced Silicon Valley experts review proposals from all over the country, Figueroa came to encourage more local candidates to apply for this sort of gap funding. While not intended to be the sole source of funding, entrepreneurs can follow the procedures and get project funding up to $150,000 within six months to year. He also recommended looking for additional support from city, county, state and federal programs looking to encourage job growth.

For people interested in submitting proposals Figueroa recommended following the Grant Proposal Guide. Do not wait until the last minute to contact program directors. Scope to the project to your capabilities and the funding you are asking for. Make sure it is appropriate for the government program. For example, a defense project might be better targeted toward DARPA and not SBIR. The people reviewing proposals want to the answers to four questions. What is the research objective? What is the technical approach? What facilities will be used? And finally, is it worth doing?

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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