SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab Application

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

  • Do you have an innovative business idea?
  • Do you need funding to help launch or grow your Maryland small business?
  • Want a program with an emphasis on woman-owned, disadvantaged, and rural businesses?
  • Want to increase your chances of winning Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding from NSF?
  • How about budget-friendly proposal training that leads to a submitted proposal?

If so, you are in the right place.

Team TEDCO has opened the application process to select up to 20 companies to participate in the SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab to assist in their National Science Foundation (NSF) SBIR/STTR proposal submissions in 2020. The Proposal Lab runs from January 15, 2020 until June 3, 2020. The application process will close on December 31, 2020 and it will be competitive. Fill out the form below on this web page. If you qualify, you will receive an invitation to a virtual interview. Apply now so that you are one of the first companies to be considered for this unique and highly subsidized opportunity.

What is the SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab?

The SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab combines information from SBIR tutorials, best-in-industry proposal training, mentoring, proposal reviews, and hands-on guidance throughout the process of developing and submitting NSF proposals.

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 20 companies will participate in the SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab from the NSF SBIR/STTR initial Project Pitch Phase, and all the way through proposal submission. Team TEDCO will conduct a series of workshops and reviews at the Training Center in OST Global Solutions’ offices in Rockville, Maryland. Participants will receive support between sessions via a series of portals. The SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab will culminate in the cohort’s proposal submissions. Subsequent advisory services will 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.  Emphasis will be on participation by women-owned, disadvantaged, and rural small businesses.

The SBIR Proposal Lab is timed to match the Summer 2020 NSF proposal deadline (Phase I proposals), with submissions due in June 2020. Approved applicants will receive preparatory materials and market research access (and other benefits) during the Fall of 2019. However, formal Proposal Lab activities start on January 15, 2020 after all approved applications are processed by December 31, 2019, and the program will end in June 2020.

To increase Lab participants’ win probability, Team TEDCO will include information captured through research and meetings with government agencies’ SBIR 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 training.

The instructor to participant ratio of 1:4 will ensure individual attention. Two substantive proposal reviews (Pink Team, Read Team) will include 2 industry 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.

Workshop Topics

Workshop 1: Overview, Proposal Process, and Brainstorming

  1. Overview of the program
  2. How to win an SBIR/STTR solicitation
  3. Matching of the ideas to the topics
  4. Brainstorming and mind-mapping on presenting ideas and talking to the government TPOCs
  5. Developing a value proposition
  6. Foundations of the spiral development proposal process and the tight schedule
  7. Importance of making the deadlines
  8. Review expectations
  9. Time management
  10. Just-in-time training on proposal portals
  11. Expected deliverables for next week
  12. Initial development of deliverables.

Workshop 2: Outline, Compliance, Brainstorming

  1. Discuss pre-developed outlines
  2. Compliance and brainstorming on section content
  3. How to win in each SBIR/STTR section
  4. Section planning
  5. The correct writing process
  6. Foundations of writing faster and better
  7. Good and bad proposal language specific to NSF SBIR/STTRs
  8. Training on databases available for research at TEDCO’s Market Research Kiosks.

Pink Team Review

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% customer-ready and is compliant.

Workshop 3: Cost Proposal and Graphics

  1. Cost proposal development
  2. Proposal graphics and visuals development appropriate for the SBIR/STTR submission format
  3. Graphics templates
  4. Conceptualization and graphics rendering skills.

Red Team Review

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

Workshop 4: Editing and Production

  1. Proposal editing and desktop publishing in MS Word
  2. Self-editing and editing automation
  3. Introduction to Read-Aloud review process for a polished submission.

Workshop 5: Proposal Preparation for Submission and Submission

  1. Final preparation for submission
  2. Hitting the “submit” button; 3. Follow-on actions.

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 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 $10,000 per participant. However, participants will pay only $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 $225,000, 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 $1,500,000), 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 first 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.