A common topic to include in your SBIR proposal is a discussion on the competition. While we often hear our clients say that they “Don’t have any competition” or there are “No others doing this,” there is always some alternative that your customers can use or are using to solve the problem. As a reviewer, if someone tells me there are no competitors, I tend to think that they haven’t looked hard enough, are too enamored with their technology, or worse yet, that there are no competitors, because there is no market for a solution. Of importance when thinking about competition, you should think broadly of what people do now to address the problem…even if that means they don’t purchase another product.
I often have to emphasize that anything a person does is a competing strategy, and should be addressed.
- Do your customers build their own solution?
- Do they slog through the problem inefficiently?
- Do they ignore the problem and just live with it?
These are all competing strategies that should be considered, not only for your SBIR application, but also for the health of your overall business.
In your SBIR application, you should include a clearly labeled section for “Competition/Competing Strategies.” Here you can briefly describe what other products are available and how they are deficient in solving the problem. Perhaps they are more expensive than yours, or less effective. Perhaps they are only available in an academic setting and not commercially sold. Or, they may take a lot of time or effort to complete or may be complicated and not automated. These are all possible areas where your value proposition can shine and you can make a strong argument for your case. If space allows, we often see tables summarizing the characteristics of the competition compared to the applicant’s solution. This can be a good visual way to present your advantages over other options your customers may choose.
Want to learn more about resources available to help build a winning proposal? Contact CTC to see if there is funding or training that can help you identify competition and describe why your technology is superior.