Application Length


In the spirit of yesterday’s entry, keep your application as short as possible. Keep your Phase I to 10-12 pages and keep your Phase II application to 15-20 pages.

Learn to do this now because within a number of years this will be the length of the applications.

I have seen enough applications that I am certain that any application can be written more effectively in 2/3 the space. If you do not believe me, then try me out. So far every person that I have helped has been more than satisfied.

When the reviewer sees that the application is short, the reviewer will automatically focus more on your application and be less likely to miss key information or make other errors. That is human nature. You will get more out of this than you will from relentlessly bombarding the reviewers with peripherally relevant information.

Knowing what information to cut out of the application is not so easy. But I am sure that you can figure this out if you approach it in a systematic manner.

Using a partner from a related field to review your application is a good step in this direction. It will take a number of iterations and you must pass the application to a different person after two iterations. But once you figure out the pattern, you will be set.

I can get you there faster at a much smaller cost when you consider the amount of time you will save, but anyway you do it, I hope you make it.

I would love to hear about your successes.

For more information on this subject, click on this link: High Level SBIR/STTR Grant Writing Techniques.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or go to

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Three or more reviewers are assigned to your application. This is good and this is bad. The good part is that all aspects of your application should be covered. The bad part is that the more people who review you application the higher the probability that one will find a problem that does not exist.

If you have submitted before, then you know from the reviewers’ comments that they missed some key points that you made, blew a minor throw away comment out of proportion, or made uninformed judgments.

The reviewers work very hard for almost no compensation. They probably average about 2.5 hours per application. For 9 applications, that is about 2.5 days of work, which does not include coming to the review meeting. The meetings are usually 1 day plus travel time. In all they spend close to 4 days of their time on the review process. For this effort they receive about $600 of compensation (after expenses) or somewhere around $20/hour. Many meetings are run over the internet now, but still, they spend a lot of time for a small amount of compensation.

It is my consistent experience that 70% of reviewers put forth a respectable effort and about 20% put forth an incredible effort.

However, remember that it is up to you as an applicant to understand the limitations of the review process. Expect that the reviewers will not spend more than 2.5 hours with your application. How well can a reviewer who does not know your specific area completely evaluate your application in 2.5 hours? That is a good question.

Here is an exercise for you to consider: give your application to a colleague in another area from your own, but with enough general expertise to be able to review the application, with a visit or two to the web for some background info. Ask that person to spend no more than 2.5 hours on the review and then come back and tell you where to simplify and cut out information. This will improve your application.

Having information in the application will not help you if it keeps the reviewer from getting to or remembering the key pieces of information.

Another important point is the organization of the application. Be sure it is organized such that the reviewer can easily skim over the application and not get lost.

You can get a densely written application funded, but it will get funded less often than it otherwise would for its given intrinsic scientific and technical merit.

For more information on this subject, click on this link: High Level SBIR/STTR Grant Writing Techniques.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or go to

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Some Comments On IP


IP is a very confusing area for many reasons. One reason is that many reviewers think they know a lot about IP. Well, some do, but most do not. I have seen many applications unjustly affected by reviewers who were sure they knew more about IP than they actually did. For the most part, you can avoid this problem, if you know how to properly position the information in your application.

For Phase I applications, IP is not a review criterion. IP is specifically precluded from the review; however this will not stop a reviewer on a mission. So what can you do about it? If at all possible, file a provisional patent before submitting your application. Check with a patent attorney about this. Most good patent attorneys will give you free advice in this area. If they try to charge you, then try someone else. Their advice coupled with the high quality of information available on line today will help you to make an informed decision. In fact, many people file their own provisional patents without using a lawyer, once they are experienced.

Sometimes you will want to enter an area that is covered by someone else’s patent. One way to approach this situation is to have that entity write you a letter of support and interest in licensing if the studies work out. If this is not possible, it can be very difficult to get funding for a project that clearly infringes on someone else’s patent. You might want to talk to a patent attorney and have an opinion written and attached as a letter of support and outlining the strategy that will be used to bring your product to market. This will usually cost money.

For Phase II, IP is much more of an issue. In fact the Commercialization Plan specifically calls for a discussion of IP, so hopefully you have taken care of the issue by this time. It is possible to get Phase II funding without IP, but it can be an uphill battle.

For more information, click on this link : High Level SBIR/STTR Grant Writing Techniques.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or go to

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Keep it Short


When writing a grant application, it is tempting to put in all the information that you can think of, just to be sure that you do not miss something. More information is not always better. The quality of the information is far more important than the quantity of the information.

If you put in a lot of non pivotal information, you take the risk of having the reviewers miss the important information. It is a lot like having a lot of noise in an experiment. You want to be sure that the signal is strong, so keep the noise as low as possible.

Put in just the pivotal pieces of information and then enough supporting information to make all key aspects of the application clear and to make it clear that you know the area of science relevant to the application. You do not have to be exhaustive.

In addition to creating noise in your application, putting in too much information also risks a reviewer getting confused over a digression and blowing it out of proportion, possibly sinking your application. This can happen over a piece of information that you really did not need in the first place. So it is usually best to keep things simple.

For more information, click on this link : High Level SBIR/STTR Grant Writing Techniques.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or go to

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On Preliminary Data


Sometimes preliminary data is essential and sometimes it is not necessary or even harmful. Knowing when and how to use preliminary data is one of the key factors in obtaining fundable priority scores.

If you are going to use preliminary data, be sure that the data is of publication quality. No preliminary data is better than preliminary data with large error bars or data without a statistical evaluation.

Be sure that each figure or table is self contained and that the text clearly refers to the correct figures. This may seem obvious; but I have seen this sink an application on many occasions.

If your application proposes experiments or techniques that your team has never carried out before or used before, then be sure to have preliminary data showing that you can indeed succeed at these tasks. I know this can seem silly, but reviewers are very critical on this point. They know how easy it is to waste 3 months learning even the simplest technique. All it takes is a lack of focus and a little bad luck. We have all done this at some point in our careers. The reviewers want to be sure that such lost time is in the past. They use preliminary data as their indicator.

How you write and present this section can also make the difference between funding and not funding. If you present your data the way you would in a journal article, then you are taking a big chance at having the reviewer miss key points. A grant application is not a scientific article. A grant application is a sales tool. It must indeed be scientific, but its presentation should meet a different standard in order to increase the probability of obtaining funding.

Check out my E-book for more pivotal information on when and how to use preliminary data and how to write the preliminary data section itself.

To access this E-Book, click on this link : High Level SBIR/STTR Grant Writing Techniques.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or go to

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