November 30, 1999 in SBIR/STTR News

The “I” in SBIR Stands for Innovation

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In talking with companies about SBIR funding and how it might fit their need to develop a new technology into a marketable product, we often hear “There is no competition for this product” and “No one has anything like this”.  It is surprising then when they get back the debriefing from a federal agency on their rejected proposal to see comments from the scientific reviewers like “Proposal lacks innovation” and “This technology is crowded with companies attempting a similar research and development approach”.

One of the first things we suggest to companies is that they do their “homework”.  They need to understand what solutions to the opportunity are already out in the market and what other research and development is going on in that area.  Too often companies get too focused on their own technological approach that they do not keep up with what others are doing. 

The most obvious shortcoming of not knowing what others are doing is that they might have already developed something similar or have a solution that can beat you out in the marketplace.  If your answer is that you have done a patent search and found nothing, see our May 15th posting on Patents and Potential.  You need to dig deeper.

Even if you are correct that you have a unique and superior technological approach to an opportunity, you still need to be able to discuss what others are doing in this field. 

  1. First, it is expected that the Principal Investigator on a SBIR project is up on the latest developments in the area of technology that he/she is working in.  If you don’t know what others are doing, you lose creditability. 
  2. Second, if you cannot outline what others are doing, how can you claim that you have an innovative and superior solution? 

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