Apply to Be a Part of the SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab!

  • Do you need funding to help launch or grow your Maryland small business or startup?
  • Do you have an innovative idea that could be commercialized for business?
  • Want to increase your chances of winning Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding?
  • How about budget-friendly Business Development and Proposal training to help you develop and submit a compelling proposal for funding?

If so, you are in the right place.

Maryland’s TEDCO, OST, and the Small Business Development Center (Team TEDCO) have teamed together to select up to 25 companies to participate in a unique opportunity to join OST’s next SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab. For a third year, Team TEDCO will run a Proposal Lab tailored to assist Maryland small businesses to develop and submit a proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a Phase I award up to $256,000. The Proposal Lab runs from January 15, 2021 through June 2021. The application process will close on December 31, 2020 and it will be competitive. If you qualify, you will receive an invitation to a virtual interview. Apply now, since space is limited for this high-value and heavily discounted training!

What is the SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab?

The Small Business Innovation Research Program, also referred to as SBIR; and the Small Business Technology Transfer program, also referred to as STTR, are sometimes referred to as the Nation’s largest source of early stage/high risk funding for start-ups and small business.

The SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab combines guidance from SBIR tutorials, best-in-industry proposal training, Business Development and Technical mentorship, expert proposal reviews, and hands-on guidance throughout the program.

We are able to provide significant discounts to companies since the SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

A cohort of up to 25 companies will participate in the SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab. We will take each participant from the NSF SBIR/STTR initial Project Pitch Phase all the way through to proposal submission. Team TEDCO will conduct a series of workshops and reviews virtually from the Training Center at OST Global Solutions’ offices in Rockville, Maryland (some in-person events may resume depending on Coronavirus restrictions). Participants will receive support between sessions via a series of online portals. The SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab will culminate in the cohort’s proposal submissions projected in June 2021. Subsequent advisory services will also be available for awardees and those that want feedback on how to improve their next proposal submission.

The SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab’s goal is to at least double the win rate of Phase I SBIR applications (from 16% national average to 32%).

The ultimate goal is to improve proposal quality, submissions, and win rate while building long-term capacity to win government and commercial bids. Any eligible Maryland small businesses can and should apply, but emphasis will be on participation by women-owned, disadvantaged, and rural small businesses.

The SBIR Proposal Lab is timed to match the Summer 2021 NSF proposal deadline (Phase I proposals), with submissions projected to be due in June 2021. Approved applicants will receive preparatory materials and market research access (and other benefits) beginning the Fall of 2020. However, formal Proposal Lab activities start on January 13, 2021 after all approved applications are processed by December 31, 2019.

To increase Lab participants’ win probability, Team TEDCO will include information captured through research and meetings with government SBIR/STTR program managers focusing on what’s important to them, what wins, and what are the most effective preparation steps for the Lab participants.

Team TEDCO’s SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab will help participants develop NSF SBIR/STTR proposals through a series of hands-on workshops and tailored training.

The instructor to participant ratio of 1:4 will ensure individual attention. Two substantive proposal color team reviews (Pink Team, Red Team) will include a proposal and an industry (technical) expert reviewers assigned per proposal. One will review your proposal for compliance and persuasiveness, and another will examine your proposal’s technical viability.

What Are the Topics of Each SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab Workshop?

Here are the topics and events timed to fit each set of “next steps” necessary to complete your SBIR/STTR proposals.

SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab helps 3D manufacturing startup company Airgility win their recent National Science Foundation SBIR Award of $225K already!

Workshop Dates and Topics

Workshop 1: SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab Kickoff, Outline Content, and Business Model (January 13, 2021)

1. Cohort Introductions.
2. Project Pitch and Proposal Status Check (review progress on early preparation efforts).
3. Primer on the NSF SBIR/STTR Program.
4. Overview of the SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab program.
5. How to win an NSF grant
6. Outline walk-through and content requirements.
7. Business Model Development
8. Time management.
9. Proposal Virtual Portals.
10. Expected deliverables and assignments prior to next workshop.

Workshop 2: Project Plan, Commercialization, and TEDCO Market Research Kiosks (February 10, 2021)

1. Government registrations: and FastLane status check.
2. Commercial opportunity section requirements.
3. Mind mapping.
4. Project planning.
5. Developing timelines and Gantt charts.
6. Commercial Opportunity section drafting.
7. Consulting TEDCO’s Market Research Kiosk and working on the commercial opportunity section.
8. Expected deliverables and assignments prior to the next workshop.

Workshop 3: Compliance, Brainstorming, Speed-Writing Process (February 24, 2021)

1. Proposal Status Check.
2. Foundations of writing faster and better.
3. The psychology of writing.
4. The correct writing process.
5. Group brainstorming on section content.
6. Individual brainstorming on section content.
7. Speed writing proposal sections.
8. Using tools to help write better and faster.
9. Getting Ready for the Pink Team ‘Pens Down’.

Pink Team Review (March 10, 2021)

Pink Team is a feedback mechanism on participant’s performance and proposal quality to date. The standard for Pink Team is that the proposal draft is 60% NSF-ready and is compliant.

Workshop 4: Budget Proposal and Graphics (March 24, 2021)

1. Proposal Status Check.
2. NSF Budget walk-through (hands-on).
3. Proposal graphics and visuals, and principles of the design.
4. Preparation for the Red Team ‘Pens Down’.

Red Team Review (May 05, 2021)

Red Team review provides feedback to participants on proposal quality. The standard is that the proposal is 90% NSF-ready; within 10% of the page count; and compliant and compelling.

Workshop 5: Editing and Desktop Publishing (DTP) (April 14, 2021)

1. Proposal status discussion.
2. Proposal editing.
3. Desktop publishing.
4. Assignments review.
5. Upcoming deliverable dates.

Workshop 6: Proposal Preparation for Submission and Submission May 19, 2021)

1. Proposal Status Check.
2. Proposal wall reviews.
3. Loading proposals in the portal.
4. Hitting “submit”.
5. Submission Confirmation planning and process.

Our full-day proposal training labs will combine just-in-time training with hands-on work.

How Much Does It Cost to Participate in the SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab?

Due to winning of the SBA FAST grant , funding from TEDCO, and in-kind contributions from TEDCO and OST’s GovCon Incubator; the SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab is able to significantly offset the cost of the SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab while providing participants proposal development skills that will have applicability way beyond the SBIR/STTR program.

Participation in the SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab is valued at over $10,000 per participant. However, participants only pay $600 if they are accepted into the program. The significant savings not only come with the opportunity to greatly increase your chances of winning an award, they will also bring invaluable skills for increasing your professional abilities in business development, commercialization, marketing and Federal Government proposal development.

This is a worthwhile investment for a greater potential to win Phase I awards that are up to $256,000, that will help you advance your innovative idea into reality. By winning Phase I, you will position yourself for Phase II that has much higher funding (up to $1,000,000 plus supplements up to an additional $500,000), and a potential for the government agency to issue a contract to you.

Who Is Eligible to Participate in the SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab?

Any small business in Maryland is eligible to apply to participate in the SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab, provided you have not won an SBIR or STTR award in the past.

However, during the applicant selection process, we will give preference to women-owned, disadvantaged, and rural businesses – provided they have viable ideas that fit the SBIR/STTR solicitations. We will allocate the remainder of spaces to other Maryland small businesses. If all spaces are filled, we will maintain a waiting list.

Note that participants must commit to participate in 100 percent of all the SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab activities to be eligible to apply. If a previously accepted member cannot continue in the SBIR Proposal Lab, we will offer participation to someone on the waiting list.

Access for People with Disabilities

Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance prior to the start of the SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab. Contact


The small business definition for the SBIR program is one which, including its affiliates, has a number of employees not exceeding 500.

SBA’s Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) definition is a company at least 51% owned and controlled by a female U.S. citizen.

SBA’s Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) definition is a small business that is at least 51 percent owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged. SBA’s identified socially disadvantaged groups include: African Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and Subcontinent Asian Americans. Economically disadvantaged individuals are defined as those for whom impaired access to financial opportunities has hampered the ability to compete in the free enterprise system, in contrast to people in similar businesses who are not identified as socially disadvantaged.

Rural Maryland Small Business is a small business located in Talbot, Caroline, Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset, Worcester, Cecil, Harford, Kent, Queen Anne’s, N. Baltimore, Frederick, Washington, Allegany, Garrett, Carroll, Charles, Calvert, or St. Mary’s County.