One of the best ways to avoid silly mistakes when submitting a proposal is to read the instructions–the SBIR or STTR solicitation. Seems like a simple thing, but many common mistakes, which resulted in proposal rejection, could have been avoided if the instructions had been read carefully (and then re-read).
Read the solicitation (and I mean cover-to-cover!) at least five times:
- When the solicitation is first released (or when you first find out about it)
- When you decide you will be submitting to this agency, at this time, under this solicitation (will you need to register electronically or get letters of support–if so, will you have enough time before the submission deadline?)
- When you decide on a topic/institute–will your solution fit within the parameters of that agency/institute and within their budget/time limits?
- When you begin to write your proposal (questions regarding font, format, page-length, allowable costs, etc. are answered in the solicitation)
- After you have completed your proposal and you are ready to submit, go back and read the solicitation one last time to make sure you have addressed all the requirements–if you give yourself enough time before submission, you might even have enough time to correct anything you overlooked.
While agencies release similar solicitations from year-to-year, sometimes there are subtle changes–don’t just skim the solicitation, read it CAREFULLY.
You might be an expert in writing SBIR/STTR proposals–for one agency–but requirements vary between agencies. Only way to know this is to read the solicitation.
Even if you have current funding from a specific agency, don’t assume the SBIR/STTR proposal requirements will be the same–not the case. Read the solicitation.
So, what is the first and last thing you are going to do? Read the solicitation!