Drafting and Reviewing your SBIR Proposal

When writing a grant proposal it is always a good idea to have others look it over during the writing phase and most certainly during your final edits prior to submission.  We’ve identified some tips towards writing a winning proposal with regards to efficiently drafting and reviewing your document.

1)      It often is a good idea to split the effort in initially drafting your proposal.  This allows your team to take advantages of the strength of individuals while efficiently getting the sections prepared in a timely manner. One caution to consider is that your team needs to understand the bounds of their assignment and that the science is well understood.  This will ensure that the text is internally consistent and that confusing or contradictory passages are eliminated. While splitting the writing is an excellent strategy, eventually the team will have to edit the passages to make sure your document is both scientifically valid and commercially viable.  A common error is that the document contains lots of jargon and acronyms that aren’t well defined; or are understood only by experts well-versed in the field.  We generally suggest you write your document for an educated audience who is not well educated in your specific field.

2)      Once your first decent draft is written your team should have an internal review.  It’s best to have sections reviewed by others who have not been involved in the writing.  This will make the overall document better and problems and inconsistencies are spotted early in the process.  An added benefit for this internal review is that the whole team will get a better understanding of the overall project details.

3)      Once the internal review is complete, and your draft is well on its way, we recommend an external review.  This can be done by having trusted colleagues read through it and make suggestions for improvements.  We at the CTC provide this service at no charge to our clients.  Not only will members of our group look it over and suggest edits, but also we have a more formalized ‘pre-submission’ review.  We impanel an ad hoc group of scientists/buisiness people expert in the SBIR process to mimic a Federal Review panel as closely as we can.  These external reviewers are under non-disclosure agreements and score/review the proposal as they do when they sit on real SBIR review committees.  We encourage our clients to take advantage of both our CTC review capabilities as well as our pre-submission review events.  Check out the  Presubmission reviews that are open for registration.

4)      A few days before the deadline, its time for the final reviews and edits. This is an opportunity to fine tune the grantsmanship and pay special attention to details related to readability. Your draft should be complete enough now that you could submit it if you absolutely had to.  Final polishing should include changing wording for more clarity, as well as correcting grammar and misspellings.   Non-native English speaking applicants should have the proposal looked over by native speakers for confounding and sometimes confusing grammatical errors. English is a difficult language particularly with respect to verb tense and article placement, so it is advisable to include native English speakers early and often in the review process as well as part of the final review team.