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SBIR - A Nice Add-on Business
If you are a small business and qualify to participate in the SBIR program, it is a natural enhancer to your existing business. If you are small enough you may be able to start a company using SBIR funding, but you will soon come to realize that if your sources of income are not diversified (with SBIR being only one source) you might fall victim to funding cycles and no income. Although the Government provides funding to spawn technology its dual mission is to help that technology grow into viable commercial technology. If you can not bring your SBIR funding to fruition via commercialization, then you may find yourself receiving less and less funding as the years unfold.
Also, there are fluctuations with regard to prioritization among technological programs in the Government. One year you might receive an SBIR Phase I to do a feasibility study on XYZ and you might even be lucky enough to land a Phase II where the funding is three quarters of a million dollars to put a prototype together based on your Phase I findings. The customer might be so pleased with your work on the Phase II that you are told they are going to budget X millions of dollars to order X # of these gizmos. And then you play the waiting game. You wait, and wait, and wait? What happened? Well, the classic situation is that it takes the Government so long to get the wheels in motion for a significant buy, that by the time the Government is ready to purchase, priorities and agendas have changed. Where are you? You start looking at the SBIR solicitation for Phase I's again and the SBIR cycle starts over.
Another classic SBIR scenario is when you have lots of phase I and phase II programs going on and all of a sudden there has been a funding freeze for one reason or another. Perhaps an agenda has been delayed or a budget is not yet approved by the Government. If you participate only in the Government arena, poof - your business is at a standstill until this roadblock is cleared. That's why the SBIR program is a great add-on to an existing business rather than a sole enterprise.
The best course of action is to scout the solicitations and find a topic or area of research that your technology can solve. If it proves to be a viable solution for the Government it may also prove to be a nice added source of funding to further your technology, courtesy of the US Government!
Nonetheless, beware. This opportunity does not come without its unique complexities. As with any business venture, one must move forward with caution and know what the implications are or will be to your existing business. Of specific importance is the ownership of Intellectual Property, best customer pricing and authority. If you are not sure what the implications are you should consult someone who does before jumping into the federal market.
Lisa DeMaio is the president and founder of Virtual Contract Manager, LLC, which is a one-stop "information shop" for and about the Contract Management Community and the SBIR (Small Business Innovative Research) Program. Let Virtual Contract Manager coach you on how to integrate the SBIR program into your existing business. Come visit Virtual Contract Manager and get a wealth of FREE SBIR information on our Free Articles Page and to sign up for our content-rich monthly newsletter which features one article a month on the SBIR program. Let Virtual Contract Manager help you tap the federal market and help fund your research or innovative technology. http://www.virtualcontractmanager.com/
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