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Feb 7, 2020

The Two Steps to Plan and Prepare Your Pitch

Time to read: 5 min

If you’re reading this I’m assuming you’re at least intrigued by federal R&D funding, so I’m going to start using more federal lingo (you’ll need to know this when you start reading their pitch guidelines)

Here are a couple terms to know:

  • SBIR: R&D funding to a company that will do the majority of the R&D themselves (FYI, if we say SBIR, assume we mean SBIR and STTR)

  • STTR: R&D funding to a company that is partnered with a university. Technically the university has to get paid at least 30% of the contract value, but in our experience STTR only makes sense if you want to leverage a university for the majority of the R&D work

  • Phase I: The Angel round

  • Phase II: The Seed round

  • Phase III: Your master services agreement to help you make enterprise sales to the government


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I recommend seeing what the R&D teams are funding right now. Maybe nothing will be open at the moment, but maybe the perfect funding opportunity is out there. Either way I encourage you to see:

What the R&D teams currently want to fund…

But before you look under the funding Christmas tree here are two caveats:

  • Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see anythings that’s a good fit. New stuff comes out all the time

  • Don’t get discouraged if you see something that looks promising, and discover that it was written by taking a contract and running it through Google translate a bunch of times. We’ll talk about how to read those documents later

See what’s open for funding HERE

What the R&D teams have funded in the past…

While you’re at it take a look at what the R&D teams have funded to see if people like you have gotten funded before. If so great, if something was funded in the past it’s a strong indicator that it, or something like it, will get funded in the future. And if you don’t see anything like what you want to do don’t worry too much. R&D teams add new stuff all the time.

See what’s been funded HERE



If you find the perfect topic, then awesome. Read the rest of these posts quickly and get after it- you might not have much time to respond.

If on the other hand nothing is currently open and in your ballpark there is some prep that you can do now that will set you up for success when the perfect funding call does come out:

Get to know the relevant people at the R&D teams..

Look at previously funded products that are similar to yours, and look for the people listed on the R&D teams’ funding team.  Reach out to those people and try to get to know them (in general we recommend approaching them with a specific question about your concept, don’t ask them to explain the funding program to you)


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Pre-socialize your idea and get feedback…
Try to pitch your idea.  The funding team may or may not give you feedback but if they do, that’s gold

Submit a funding topic…
This may sound weird, but the R&D teams frequently don’t have enough funding ideas. If you write a topic area that they should fund, you might see it come out as an active funding topic a few months later

Start identifying and engaging end users…
Just like any investor the R&D teams want to know that you understand the end user. So figure out who would use your product and start getting their feedback

Decide if you are going to do the work alone or with a university…
Working alone lets you keep for of the money and gives you more control but partnering with a university gives you more credibility and gives you access to R&D teams, facilities, university IP, and students.


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