CHAPTER 3.0 Proposal Preparation Instructions and Requirements for SBIR Phase I
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3.1 Fundamental Considerations
3.2 General Requirements
3.3 Required Format
3.4 Proposal Cover and Project Summary Pages
3.5 Technical Proposal
3.6 Check List (Phase I)
3.1. Fundamental Considerations
3.1.1 Responsiveness to NSF Topics.
DesignateONE, and only ONE, of the numbered topics listed in Chapter 8.0. The topic name and, if applicable, the appropriate subtopic letter, must be identified on the cover sheet. A firm may submit separate proposals on different topics or different proposals on the same topic under this Solicitation. Firms are encouraged to submit their best ideas in response to this Solicitation. Multiple submissions will not necessarily result in multiple awards.
Projects involving research on human subjects must ensure that subjects are protected from research risks in conformance with the Common Rule (Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects). Awards involving human subjects will require grantee compliance with the NSF regulation, entitled, "Protection of Human Subjects," 45 CFR 690. Projects involving vertebrate animals will comply with the Animal Welfare Act (7 USC §§ 2131-59) and the regulations promulgated thereunder by the Secretary of Agriculture (CFR, Title 9, Subchapter A, Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4) pertaining to the care, handling and treatment of vertebrate animals held or used for research, teaching or other activities supported by Federal Grants. For more information reference the Grants Policy Manual at: http://www.nsf.gov:80/bfa/cpo/gpm95/start.htm.
3.1.2 Phase I Proposal Objectives.
A Phase I proposal must describe the research effort needed to investigate the feasibility of the proposed scientific or technical innovation. The objective of the Phase I effort must be to determine whether the innovation has sufficient technical merit for proceeding into Phase II.
3.1.3 SBIR/STTR Project Requirements.
The deliverable item at the end of an SBIR/STTR Phase I grant shall be a professional quality report that justifies, validates, and defends the experimental and theoretical work accomplished. Furthermore, this report must demonstrate the basis for judgments about technical merit and feasibility of the innovation presented in the Phase I proposal, and it should connect the Phase I results to Phase II follow-on R/R&D and commercial applications.
The deliverable item for Phase II grants shall be a professional quality report that addresses the results of the project, validating the innovation and the potential for implementation of commercial applications.
3.1.4 Unacceptable Objectives.
Proposed efforts directed toward systems studies; market research; commercial development of existing products or proven concepts; straightforward engineering design for packaging or adaptation to specific applications; studies, laboratory evaluations; incremental product/process improvements; and modifications of existing products without innovative changes are examples of projects that are not acceptable for SBIR/STTR.
3.1.5 Multiple Proposal Submissions.
A proposer may submit any number of different proposals based on different unique innovations to any number of topics or to specific subtopics. Multiple proposals based on a single unique innovation is discouraged.
If duplicate proposals or equivalent proposals are submitted to different topics, all proposals but one will be deemed inappropriate and returned without further consideration.
3.2 General Requirements
3.2.1 Page Limitation.
A Phase I SBIR/STTR proposal shall not exceed a total of 25 standard 8 1/2 inch X 11 inch (21.6 X 27.9 cm) pages, including cover page, budget, and all enclosures or attachments (except for the exempted documents noted below). Margins shall be 1.0 inch minimum (2.5 cm). All material submitted, except for the exempted documents, will be included in the page count. Samples, videotapes, slides, or other ancillary items will not be accepted. Proposals exceeding the 25-page limitation will be rejected and returned without consideration.
3.2.2 Type Size and Spacing.
No type size smaller than 10 point is to be used for text or tables, except as legends on reduced drawings and for inserted letters of consultant support.Proposals prepared with smaller font sizes will be rejected and returned without further consideration.
If constant spacing is used, there should be no more than 12 characters per 2.5 cm, whereas proportional spacing should provide no more than an average of 15 characters per 2.5 cm.
3.3 Required Format.
The required format for a Phase I NSF SBIR proposal is described in the following paragraphs. All required items of information are to be covered fully in the prescribed "Part" order (shown below), but the space allocated to each will depend on the project chosen and the proposer's approach. Promotional and non-project-related material should not be included.
Each proposal submitted to the NSF SBIR program must contain the following parts in the order presented:
Each proposal should be reviewed carefully by the proposer and by others knowledgeable on the subject to ensure inclusion of enough substantive information for evaluation of technical merit and commercial potential. NSF reserves the right not to submit to technical review any proposal that it finds to have insufficient scientific, technical, or commercial potential information; these proposals will be deemed inappropriate and returned without further review.
3.4 Proposal Cover Page and Project Summary.
The Proposal Cover Page and the Project Summary are public information and the Government may disclose them. Do not include proprietary information on these pages.
3.4.1 Page 1: Proposal Cover Page and Certification (NSF Form 1207).
A Proposal Cover Page is provided as Attachment B (for SBIR Phase I proposals). The second page is the Certification Page, and thisMUST BE completed, fully signed and included only with the original copy of the proposal; it should not be included with any of the other copies of the proposal. The Certification Page is a required document for all NSF SBIR proposals; proposers not meeting this requirement will have all proposals returned without further consideration.
The title shall be concise, technically valid, intelligible to the nonspecialist, and suitable for use in the public press. If acronyms are used in the title, they must be spelled out. NSF may edit the title of the project before making an award.
3.4.2 Page 2: Project Summary (NSF Form 1307).
The Project Summary page is provided as Attachment C.
The Project Summary should be written in the third person. The summary should begin as follows: "This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project...". The technical abstract is limited to 200 words and should not reveal proprietary information. Include a brief identification of the problem or opportunity, the research objectives, a description of the research, and the anticipated results, and potential applications of the research. Complete the sections entitled Key Words and Potential Commercial Applications of the Research.
In the event of an award, the Project Summary page will become public information. NSF may edit the Project Summary before making it information public.
3.4.3 Information about Principal Investigator/Project Directors (NSF Form 1225).
The Information about Principal Investigator/Project Directors is provided as Attachment A. Attach this form to the proposal marked "original" and it should follow the Certification Page in the original proposal. This form is not included in the page count nor does it go to reviewers.
3.5 Technical Proposal.
The technical proposal shall contain the following parts in the following order. (Note: Parts that are not applicable must be included and marked "Not Applicable".)
Part 1: Table of Contents.
Part 2: Identification and Significance of the Innovation.
Part 3: Phase I Technical Objectives.
Part 4: Phase I Research Plan.
Discuss problems or obstacles to be overcome which would determine whether or not the proposed concept is feasible. Also, anticipate the questions and concerns that reviewers may have with regard to your research plan and respond to these issues in this section.
Scheduling and staff activity charts are encouraged. Such charts may include tasks, scheduled completion dates, and decision points. They may also indicate which tasks are starting points for Phase II work. Proposers are advised to avoid including proprietary information if at all possible. See Chapter 5.0, Section 5.4 that deals with treatment of proprietary information.
Part 5. Commercial Potential.
One approach for organizing commercialization information would be to describe a set of future circumstances under which application of the innovation might be realized, while a second approach could focus on defined customer needs and the proposed product's ability to meet them. A plausible argument should be constructed about how the successful Phase I and Phase II research projects would mesh with the anticipated and/or current market needs, resulting in a highly successful commercial outcome. Either of these approaches could provide a coherent "story line" which will be useful not only in developing a strategy for commercialization, but also in the sections of the proposal describing significance, technical approach, research, and participants.
At the Phase I stage, the above questions should serve to direct and help you organize your thinking about the crucial issues of commercialization. By the time you get to Phase II, your strategy for commercialization should have evolved to a plan for commercialization with the answers to most of the above questions being well specified. A comprehensive assessment of the commercial potential of applications of research results based on the proposing organization's description of its commercialization plan, will take place at the Phase II stage.
Phase I awardees are encouraged to think early about potential commercial applications of their research with the same depth and creativity as they devote to the research problem itself.
There may be diverse and distinct applications of the same research, which have excellent commercial potential. By identifying multiple product/process applications such as those in emerging technology areas, Phase I awardees can identify potential partners, sources of funding commitments, and new markets. "Market pull" is the factor for successful commercialization of SBIR/STTR projects.
Some of the strategies for commercializing your SBIR/STTR results are as follows:
Part 6. Company Information and Management Team.
For young or newly formed companies please address future staffing plans.
Please state company's financial record for the past year specifying income for each of the following areas:
This part shall also establish and confirm the eligibility of the principal investigator (see Chapter 1.0, Section 1.4.4), and indicate the extent to which other proposals recently submitted or planned for submission in 1999 and existing projects commit the time of PI concurrently with this proposed activity.Any attempt to circumvent the restriction on PIs working more than 49% for any other company or non-profit organization by substituting an ineligible PI will result in rejection of the proposal. Letters regarding employment releases and certifications of intent shall be required prior to an award and should be included with the proposal. It is important to start early on in determining who are the current and anticipated management team members. In Phase II the management plan becomes an important consideration in determining the company's ability to take Phase I results through Phase II and ultimately to commercialization.
Part 7. Consultants and Subawards.
Include signed statements from consultants which address the availability, time commitment, research role in the project, and daily rate of the consultant (not exceed $453 per day). The number of days on the project may be specified in the consultant's statement or by referencing the proposal. Failure to include the statements will result in return of the proposal.
If subawards (including contracts, subcontracts and other arrangements) are used for research, describe the tasks to be performed and how these are related to the overall project. No significant part of the research or substantive effort under a NSF grant may be contracted or otherwise transferred to another organization without prior NSF authorization (this excludes the procurement of items such as commercially available supplies, materials, equipment or general support services allowable under the grant). The intent to enter into such arrangements should be disclosed in the proposal.
Each subaward shall use a Summary Proposal Budget form ( Attachment D), providing detail of subaward costs by cost category. The subawardee project director and an authorized subaward company representative must sign the subaward budget form. Also enter the total amount under Subawards (Line G.5) of the budget for the overall project.
Purchases of analytical or other routine services from commercial sources and the acquisition of fabricated components from commercial sources are not regarded as reportable subaward activity. Such items -- routine analytical or other routine services -- should be reported in the Budget under Other Direct Costs/Other (Item G.6).
Remember: Include Proposal Budget forms signed by both the subawardee project director and company representative for each subaward.
Part 8. Equipment, Instrumentation, Computers and Facilities.
If the equipment, instrumentation, computers, and facilities for this research are not the property (owned or leased) of the proposing firm, include a statement signed by the owner or lessor which affirms the availability of these facilities for use in the proposed research, reasonable lease or rental costs for their use, and any other associated costs. A statement confirming the availability of facilities for use necessary for the proposed effort should be submitted with the proposal.
When purchasing equipment or a product under the SBIR/STTR funding agreement, purchase only American-made items whenever possible.
Part 9. Equivalent or Overlapping Proposals to other Federal Agencies.
Part 10. Current and Pending Support of Principal Investigator and Senior Personnel.
For all on-going or proposed projects, excluding any proposals cited above in Section 3.5, Part 9, Equivalent or Overlapping Proposals to other Federal agencies, or proposals that will be submitted in the near future, involving the Principal Investigator or senior personnel, provide the following information:
Part 11. Summary Proposal Budget.
List the Principal Investigator and senior personnel by name with their time commitments budgeted in person-months (in the column headed by "CAL," which is an abbreviation for calendar, determine time to the nearest tenth of a person-month) and the dollar amount for the performance period. For example, the Principal Investigator for the SBIR Phase I award performance period (typically a 6-month effort), the PI must commit at least one person-month to the proposed effort.
The reimbursement rates for consultants are a direct cost that cannot exceed the maximum daily rate paid to an Executive Level IV or equivalent, currently $453 per day. Indicate the number of days proposed per consultant. Consultant travel should be shown under the travel category.
The budget should indicate in general terms the type of expendable materials and supplies required with their estimated costs. The breakdown should be more detailed when the cost is substantial, i.e., more than $5,000.
Permanent equipment and foreign travel cannot be included in the SBIR Phase I budget.One trip to the National Science Foundation to attend Grantees Workshop and to discuss researchprogram with SBIR/STTR Program Manager must be included in the Phase I budget.
Reasonable fees (estimated profit) will be considered under both phases of the solicitation. The amount of the fee approved by NSF will not exceed seven percent (7%) of total indirect and direct project costs. Cost sharing is permitted; however, it is not required nor will it be a factor in the evaluation of a proposal.
Total NSF funding for the SBIR Phase I may exceed $100,000 only under the conditions described under Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities.
Part 12. Prior SBIR/STTR Phase II Awards
Firms that have received one or more SBIR/STTR Phase II awards from NSF or other Federal agencies must submit a report on Company Commercialization History. If a company has never received a SBIR/STTR Phase II award, under the Part 12 heading state zero awards. The following are necessary components for Part 12:
3.6 Check List
The proposal check list included in this Solicitation is provided to assist the proposer in completing a responsive proposal. It should not be submitted with the proposal. SBIR/STTR Phase I Check List