On November 15th, Tri-Tech SBDC (Small Business Development Center) hosted a workshop focused on preparing applicants for Phase II of the SBIR and STTR grant application process. Speakers for the evening included Martin Kleckner III, Ph.D., MBA, Senior Counselor for TriTech SBDC and Larry Schultz, Managing Partner of Hein & Associates. Kleckner and Schultz’s combined experience included stints as National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps adjunct faculty and National Institute of Health (NIH) SBIR reviewer, as well as significant financial expertise in the areas of revenue recognition and SEC reporting. The workshop agenda included: the Phase II commercialization plan, accounting requirements, budgeting for Phase II, and the related financial audit.
Kleckner reviewed the components of a Phase II commercialization plan which include company information, customers, competition, market, intellectual property, and financing. Working under the assumption that Phase II applicants have already demonstrated the feasibility of their ideas in Phase I and have built a solid foundation, Kleckner encouraged the audience to think from the perspective of the reviewer. “Can you complete the work and commercialize results successfully?” Kleckner said. “Having letters of interest, additional funding commitments, private sector resource support to enhance commercialization odds – these things can all help with your application.”
For applicants who seek additional help with their commercialization plan, Kleckner shared the following resources provided by the NSF organization administering the Phase II award:
NIH: Phase I “Technology Niche Analysis” (TNA); Commercialization Assistance Program (Phase II)
All: The I-Corps Program – Innovation & Technology Commercialization Methodology (“Lean Launch Pad”)
– The Business Model Canvas; Customer Discovery & Validation Process (Regional & National Cohorts)
– Supplemental (e.g. Matching Funds)
DOE, DOT: Commercialization Assistance Program (CAP)
DoD, DARPA: Transition and Commercialization Support Program (TCSP)
Both Kleckner and Schultz emphasized the importance of keeping meticulous financial records in addition to having an established system to manage funds in the event of receiving a Phase II award. First-time award recipients will also be subject to a regular audit, in addition to a requested budget. Given the potential size of awards, the governing organizations for each grant want to ensure that grantees have the following items in place: accounting and timekeeping systems, financial capability plans, a functional bookkeeping system, and a defined Phase II budget. Schultz concluded the event by recommending that applicants consult with a CPA for a thorough review and address any remaining items before submission.